Soltis-Jarrett Awarded $6.2 million from HRSA to Prepare Nurse Practitioners to meet Behavioral Health Needs in Rural NC

Ross Distinguished Professor Victoria Soltis-Jarrett has been awarded more than $6 million from the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) for her projects Partners in Practice, Engagement, and Education in Rural NC: Preparing Nurse Practitioners for Behavioral Health Integration in Primary Care and Nurse Practitioner Residency: Behavioral Health Integration in Rural Primary Care using the TANDEM3-PC Model.

Both projects expand on her current work to help meet the pressing psychiatric-mental health needs of rural and underserved populations of North Carolina. With a declining number of rural primary care physicians and a lack of accessible behavioral health and substance use disorder services in rural regions, the need for comprehensive, whole health care has become urgent. Soltis-Jarrett and her team believe that nurse practitioners (NP) are ideally positioned to meet that need.

“It is absolutely essential that the UNC School of Nursing take the lead to educate and train the next generation of NPs to be able to work to the highest level of their scope of practice in our rural communities,” said Soltis-Jarrett. “This is the mission and future of Carolina Nursing as we move forward navigating and implementing the strategic plan.

The funding will be used in partnership with Goshen Medical Center, the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in rural North Carolina, to recruit, educate, train and provide financial support to a total of 70 primary care nurse practitioners, establishing a pipeline for NPs to fill the gaps in a shrinking rural healthcare workforce, and preparing them to provide culturally sensitive whole health care to some of the most vulnerable individuals and families in rural and underserved regions of the state.

“It is also important for Carolina Nursing to support our NP students as well as the current healthcare workforce in NC to be able to assess and manage behavioral health and substance use disorders in primary care to decrease the burden on our specialty mental health care system,” explains Soltis-Jarrett. “Our project’s interprofessional teams are poised to prepare clinically competent and culturally sensitive Nurse Practitioners who can lead the new Medicaid Reform in NC.”

Both projects will begin July 1, 2019, and run through June 30, 2023.

Our thanks and congratulations to Dr. Soltis-Jarrett and her team for their continued efforts to provide whole health care to patients in rural North Carolina, and for strengthening Carolina Nursing’s programs to better prepare our graduates to care for the state’s most vulnerable communities.