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Nurse Practitioner Program Brings Texas A&M University Students to St. Joseph Health Rural Clinics

Posted in: Partnerships

Bryan, TX, January 29, 2019— The state of Texas faces a crisis in patient access to healthcare in rural areas. A new collaboration between Texas A&M University Health Science Center and St. Joseph Health seeks to fill those gaps, while developing a regional pipeline of highly-qualified Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs). “As a land grant university, we’re committed to preparing Texans to serve Texas,” said Dr. Cindy Weston, Associate Dean for Clinical and Outreach Affairs and Assistant Professor for Texas A&M College of Nursing. “This commitment lies at the heart of our Family Nurse Practitioner program.” Graduates of the College of Nursing’s existing FNP program have carried out that commitment. More than half of the program’s graduates today have secured positions in rural, medically underserved and healthcare provider shortage areas across the state of Texas. Through the collaboration of the Health Science Center and St. Joseph Health, leaders like Dr. Weston and Dr. Joe Hlavin, Director of Advanced Practice Clinicians for St. Joseph Health Medical Group, hope to both expand the state-wide impact of the program, while giving students the hands-on experience they need, serving in rural communities. As clinical partner for the College of Nursing, St. Joseph Health Medical Group will place 10-20 second-year FNP students across 10-12 rural clinic sites, matching them with physicians, nurse practitioners or physician assistants. “CHI St. Joseph Health is the leading health care system regionally that provides care to a number of rural and underserved communities – including Navasota, Lexington, Hearne and Madisonville,” said Dr. Hlavin, who serves as clinical site coordinator for the program. “We’ll have an opportunity to be integrally involved in the training of these health care professionals while expanding access to care for our underserved populations.” The true strength of this program, said Dr. Weston, will lie in the two organizations’ shared vision for leadership and selfless service in delivering care to those communities that need it most. Also, St. Joseph Health’s experience in team-based care across both rural and urban clinics means budding FNPs will have a chance to practice to the full extent of their training. Part of the College of Nursing’s five-year plan includes development of a psychiatric mental health-focused NP program, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice program. More sources of funding may also open up for the program in the future, said Dr. Hlavin. “We’re applying for a grant through CHI that would allow national placements for nurse practitioners,” he said. Meanwhile, the College of Nursing has applied for the Health Resources & Services Administration Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) grant. The grant supports academic clinical partnerships to educate and graduate primary care NPs to practice in rural and underserved communities. About St. Joseph Health Established in 1936, St. Joseph Health is a faith-based, not-for-profit health system committed to excellence and compassion in caring for the mind, body and spirit while creating healthier communities. St. Joseph Health is comprised of five hospital facilities across the Brazos Valley, including St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital, the region’s highest level trauma center. St. Joseph Health Medical Group operates more than a dozen primary and specialty care clinics around the region, offering expert care, closer to home.   St. Joseph Health is a part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), one of the nation’s largest health systems. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, CHI operates in 19 states and comprises more than 103 hospitals, including four academic medical centers and teaching hospitals; 24 critical-access facilities; community health services organizations; accredited nursing colleges; home health agencies; and other services that span the inpatient and outpatient continuum of care. For more information, visit About Texas A&M Health Science Center Texas A&M Health Science Center is Transforming Health through innovative research, education and service in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and medical sciences. As an independent state agency and academic unit of Texas A&M University, the health science center serves the state through campuses in Bryan-College Station, Dallas, Temple, Houston, Round Rock, Kingsville, Corpus Christi and McAllen. Learn more at or follow @TAMHSC on Twitter.  [For more information, please contact Director of Marketing and Public Relations Heather Bush at 979-774-2165 or [email protected].]  

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