Area nurses will soon have access to a master's degree program that will prepare them to work as Nurse Practitioners (NPs). The Penn State School of Nursing is expanding its present NP program to two additional campuses, including Worthington Scranton and Mont Alto.
This Master of Science (MS) degree program does not require General Record Exams (GREs) for admission but it does provide students two specialty options: the Family Nurse Practitioner or the Adult Nurse Practitioner. The NP program is currently offered at four other Penn State campuses.
The School of Nursing received funding through two Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grants. One grant enabled the university to expand its NP program to rural, medically-underserved areas; the other will fund tuition and books for select students for their two years of study (program candidates who serve rural communities and enroll full-time will be considered).
Pennsylvania has one of the highest documented health provider shortage areas in the country -- ranked 6th highest in the nation according to HRSA. As of September 2009, HRSA designated 1,161 health provider shortage areas for primary care in Pennsylvania. Of those, 153 of them are located in counties served by the Mont Alto campus (the grant targets Franklin, Adams, Fulton, Huntington, Juniata and Perry counties).
The Commonwealth has begun to address the primary care shortage through Gov. Ed Rendell's 2007 Prescription for Pennsylvania (Rx for PA) and the PA Department of Health's Primary Health Care Practitioner Program which provides educational loan repayment for primary care providers, including NPs, when they are placed in underserved rural and urban areas.
"We're so happy to be able to offer this program at our campus," said Verna Saleski, nursing program coordinator at Worthington Scranton. "Our nursing program has always been a very strong one, and now being able to offer a master's degree in this field increases and enhances the opportunities we can offer to our students."
"As healthcare organizations strive to improve quality and provide more cost-effective patient care, NPs will have an integral role," according to Carranda Barkdoll, coordinator of the nursing program at Mont Alto. "It is exciting to be able to offer area nurses access to a master's degree program here in Franklin County that will enable them to fill these roles here."
The NP program is a four-semester master's level cohort beginning next fall at Penn State Worthington Scranton. Space is limited to six students. It is available to registered nurses (RNs) who hold a bachelor's degree in nursing. The program will prepare nurses for direct patient care, leadership roles in practice settings, and nursing education.
The Penn State School of Nursing also offers an RN program and a bachelor's degree program at the Worthington Scranton campus. For more information, please contact Verna Saleski at 570-963-2645 or by email at [email protected].