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HRSA grant helps FNP students train for work in needed areas
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Filed under Public Information on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 by Author: Public Information.

Supported by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), nursing students from Midwestern State University are preparing to work as family nurse practitioners in rural and medically underserved areas – where they are most needed.

MSU’s Wilson School of Nursing received $1.5 million over two years (2017-2019) to support the education of family nurse practitioner (FNP) students by using academic-practice partners in the community, and by using telemedicine to communicate with faculty and health-care professionals in partner facilities.

Through the MUSTANGS project (Medically Underserved Specialization for Advanced Nursing Graduate Students), FNP students will train and work in rural and/or areas designated by HRSA as medically underserved. Kathleen Williamson, Chair of Nursing, said that along with increasing access to health care through technology and innovative academic practice partnerships, the MUSTANGS’ project goal is to create a pipeline of FNP students who will gain clinical experiences working in those underserved populations. This translates into long-term FNP graduate employment in those same settings. “We’re giving the students the chance to train and work in a setting so that they will want to work there, and to give back,” Williamson said.

Working in a setting also trains students in cultural sensitivity to social determinants of health, and finding the best practices for those patients. Institutional partners allows the students to be more comfortable in those settings. Clinical partners are Community Healthcare Center, United Regional Health Care System, Little Black Bag, Texoma Primary Care, and Electra Hospital District.

Medically underserved areas and populations are designations given by HRSA to geographic areas and populations with a lack of access to primary medical, dental, or mental care services. Populations within the areas may be homeless, low-income, Medicaid-eligible, Native American, or migrant farmworkers who face economic, cultural, or linguistic barriers to heath care. The designations are based on four criteria: the population-to-provider ratio, the percent of population below the federal poverty level, the percent of the population over age 65, and the infant mortality rate. Wichita County and many surrounding counties are designated as medically underserved. Williamson said that 75 percent of MSU Texas’ FNP graduates now work in medically underserved areas.

Another facet of the MUSTANGS project is telemedicine – allowing preceptors and faculty to communicate with students through visual means. “The implementation of this has been one of the most exciting things about the program,” Williamson said. “Students, faculty, and preceptors can all interact with a patient in real time. We’re proud of the ability to provide this for our students but we know it’s our preceptors who help us.”

During the two-year grant period, 18 paid traineeships will be awarded to MUSTANGS project students and seven of 14 courses in the FNP curriculum will be enhanced to prepare students for work in rural/underserved populations. The paid internships, $22,000 each, will help students focus on their education, and to be familiar with the environment in which they will work.

“We’re so excited to receive this grant,” Williamson said. “We all took part in writing it, and it’s a big undertaking for all of us in the department, but it will transform the clinical experiences for our family nurse practitioner students, and provide valuable medical service where it’s needed most.”

Contact Williamson at or 940-397-4610 for more information,

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