Campus: Fresno State -- January 19, 2007

Grant Will Expand Central California Nurse Training Program

A state grant to California State University, Fresno's family nurse practitioner training program will improve its responsiveness to the needs of underserved communities in the San Joaquin Valley.

The $85,661 grant will provide funding for a clinical site coordinator to develop new community-based clinical training sites for the program, which has a decade of success in serving the region.

Fresno State and 13 other colleges and universities throughout California, will share more than $1.5 million from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development's Song-Brown Family Physician Training Act (Song-Brown Program). Fresno State is among three institutions in the Valley to receive the funding.

"Over the past 10 years alone, Fresno State has graduated over 250 Family and Pediatric Nurse Practitioners," said Dr. Michael Russler, chair of the Department of Nursing. "These graduates have been successful as primary care providers in rural health centers, HMOs, school health clinics, private offices and hospital settings. They also have been leaders in health care delivery, administration and education."

Nearly half of these graduates (49 percent) represent a culturally diverse background and 53 percent of students in the program practice in underserved areas. Even while training, students provide valuable service. Second-year FNP students at Fresno State served an average of 817 patients apiece during their clinical training from January 2005 to May 2006.

"Since we are drawing students from a much larger geographic area than previously, we are very excited about the opportunity to develop new clinical sites in these areas," said Dr. Mary Barakzai, associate professor in the Department of Nursing and interim director of the Central California Center for Excellence in Nursing at Fresno State.

"We have found that when students train in underserved sites, they continue to work there after graduation," Barakzai said.

Fresno State's Family Nurse Practitioner Program was formed in 1968 to address the Central Valley's shortage of primary care providers. The program is dedicated to educating and training qualified professionals as well as working collaboratively with health care providers to ensure that patients receive culturally competent care throughout their lifespan.

The Song-Brown program was established in 1973 to increase the number of family practice physicians and physician assistants being trained throughout the state. Song-Brown later added family nurse practitioners, and in 2005 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger expanded the program to include registered nurses.

Contact: Brandie Campbell, (559) 278-7940


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