The University of Colorado College of Nursing and the Colorado School of Public Health will share a $1.125 million federal grant to create a new interdisciplinary model to educate public health nursing students in the population health and management of chronic conditions.
The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and includes creation of a new doctor of nursing practice and master of public health (DNP/MPH) dual degree program. Nursing programs across the country already offer the dual MSN/MPH, but the University of Colorado program will be among the first in the country to combine the DNP and MPH degrees into a joint program.
In addition to the dual degree, the College of Nursing will launch a public health track in the DNP program in 2014 and create 18 new collaborative inter-professional education practice partnerships. In total, the college expects the new programs will enroll 36 students during the three-year grant period.
Students will study issues associated with the management and care of chronic diseases—conditions which last a year or more and require ongoing medical attention and/or limit activities of daily living. Chronic diseases include physical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and HIV infection, as well as mental and cognitive disorders such as ongoing depression, substance abuse and dementia.
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act prevention and management of chronic diseases will become increasingly important. But additional health care delivery systems and a responsive education infrastructure are needed, particularly to respond to the demand for more public health educated nurses to lead and support state and local health departments.
“The new programs directly address systems of care and leadership needs, and consequently have the potential to be replicated widely,” says Principal Investigator Marilyn Krajicek, professor in the CU College of Nursing and director of the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education.
“Colorado’s public health system relies heavily on the quality of our nursing professionals,” states Colorado School of Public Health Dean David C. Goff, Jr., MD, PhD. “We see this new program as an investment in our nurses and therefore an investment in the health of our communities.”
“Nurses already manage multiple chronic conditions at the bedside and the number of patients with complex care issues will only increase as the population ages,” says Sarah A. Thompson, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the CU College of Nursing. “Our new programs will teach students how to better understand and address these chronic conditions in populations, preparing them for leadership roles in their communities. And, because the programs are primarily online, they will be accessible to nurses in high-need rural areas.”
Though the DNP/MPH is a new program, the fields of nursing and public health have proven their collaboration in other areas.
“Nursing and public health have a long history of working together,” says Assistant Professor Scott Harpin, faculty in the program. “We saw remarkable collaboration between public health nurses and public health officials after 9/11, guiding us in a new emergency preparedness world. This education grant will strengthen those partnerships by developing this innovative educational pathway for students in each graduate program.”