UIC Nursing and Erie partner on $3.3 million grant to improve health care in underserved communities

The University of Illinois at Chicago's College of Nursing is partnering with Erie Family Health Centers on a $3.3 million grant for health care improvements in underserved communities.

The project will create a one-year post-graduate fellowship program for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, or APRNs, called AdvancingPractice.

"Not only are we equipping new graduates to provide exceptional in-scope care for their APRN role, we're equipping them to lead change in community health," said Charles Yingling, who holds a doctorate in nursing practice, is UIC Nursing interim associate dean for practice and community partnerships, and who will serve as health education specialist on the grant.

The fellowship will help new nurse practitioners transition into practice by giving them an opportunity to increase and fine-tune clinical and leadership skills, Yingling said.

Through mentoring and education, we will equip new APRNs to be both expert clinicians and future leaders in community health."

Charles Yingling, UIC Nursing

UIC Nursing is Erie's academic partner, which is a required component of the grant. Faculty will provide aid in developing coursework and evaluating the program. Funding will go toward the completion of three, one-year fellowship cycles.

Jean Reidy, senior director of nursing and clinical transformation at Erie Family Health Centers, describes the partnership as a "perfect fit."

"The quality of education that UIC Nursing provides to its students is really noticeable," Reidy said. "At the same time, our missions are very aligned. UIC is focused on training nurse practitioners and midwives who will be serving in community health and reaching vulnerable populations. Erie was founded 62 years ago to serve these same communities."

Erie, a federally qualified health center, has a tradition of nurse-led primary care. Overall, about 90% of Erie patients are low-income, with more than 60% receiving Medicaid and more than 28% uninsured, which is considerably higher than the percentage in Illinois and the nation.

U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration funded the grant under an initiative called Advanced Nursing Education – Nurse Practitioner Residency.

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