For those looking to further their educations in nursing, but don’t think they have access to a university or the time to do so, there is a program that might make it easier to achieve those educational goals. The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center announced recently that an innovative graduate education program has successfully graduated 110 advanced practice healthcare providers in underserved rural and urban areas throughout the state and region.
According to a report given in September at the final partners meeting at CU-Health Sciences Center, the Mountain and Plains Partnership (MAPP), produced 93 graduates in Colorado, nine in Wyoming, two in New Mexico and six in nearby states.
The $2.5 million program, which started in 1995, is a six-year collaborative effort by 16 higher education institutions and organizations and five Area Health Education Centers. The program is one of eight national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Partnerships for Training initiatives.
Elinor Greenberg, Ed.D, MAPP regional coordinator, said the nearly 100 percent graduation rate and participant satisfaction surpassed initial program goals. "Employers were thrilled to have graduates with advanced skills, and they appreciated the graduates’ roots in their communities," Greenberg said. "Graduates were grateful for the opportunity for advancement, and expressed feelings of empowerment and increased self-confidence in the workplace."
Through a system of online and video courses, MAPP enables clinical workers who hope to become nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives or physician assistants to earn their master’s degrees while continuing to work, stay with their families and remain in their own communities.
The MAPP designers created a common Web-based curriculum made up of required courses from partner institutions that included regular exams, research projects, clinical requirements and participation at nearby hospitals and clinics. Graduates of the program made commitments to continue practicing in underserved rural and urban communities after graduation and certification.
A study conducted in July 2002 found that many of the program’s graduates had significantly improved their careers. Many of the graduates became nurse practitioners in fields varying from family nurse practitioners to neonatal nurse practitioners along with midwives and physician assistants. Of those who were surveyed, 50 percent now make between $40,000 and $60,000 and 15 percent make between $60,001 and $80,000 a year.
Bonita Wilson, a nurse in Cheyenne Wells, Colo., said increased skill, pride, confidence and opportunity are what nurses desperately need to stay in the field. Living 135 miles from the nearest classroom, working full time and raising two children, it would have been very difficult for Wilson to improve her situation the traditional way.
Through her participation in MAPP, however, Wilson obtained a master’s degree in four years and now works as a nurse practitioner with a renewed faith in her career. "There are so many nurses that would go back to school and stay in nursing if they could do this," Wilson said. "We’re in a real crunch out here trying to find qualified workers at all levels, and everyone feels the effects."
Although the MAPP program grant will end with December graduates totaling 110, almost 200 MAPP participants are expected to graduate over the next few years.