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UR School of Nursing Receives Grant to Educate NP Students To Address Childhood Trauma

  By Ivy Burruto
  Friday, July 16, 2021

The University of Rochester School of Nursing received nearly $1 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals (BHWET) program to expand the behavioral health workforce serving at-risk children and adolescents.

Depression, anxiety, and suicidality in youth are a growing concern in New York and across the nation and are linked to traumatic experiences. The grant, Project ENACT: Educating NPs to Address Childhood Trauma, will prepare UR School of Nursing Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) students to better serve children and adolescents through the addition of a trauma-informed care (TIC) curriculum.

Part of this curriculum innovation is the ongoing interprofessional collaboration between the University of Rochester Medical Center’s (URMC) Department of Psychiatry as well as expert, nationally recognized, community partners, including the Mt. Hope Family Center (MHFC) and the TRANSFORM Research Center.

Through these partnerships, Susan Blaakman, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, FNAP, the principal investigator and director of the PMHNP program, and her team will develop TIC didactic, simulation, and immersion learning experiences, and launch an online curriculum toolkit by the end of the project. The TIC curriculum toolkit will be shared as a resource with the support of the TRANSFORM Center to enhance the care of vulnerable youth while disseminating findings from this work to national audiences.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our faculty to use their expertise as clinicians and educators to creatively respond to the growing need for behavioral health care by providing enriched multidisciplinary learning opportunities for our PMHNP students and creating a national TIC curriculum resource for others,” said Lydia Rotondo, DNP, RN, CNS, FNAP, UR School of Nursing associate dean for education and student affairs.

The project faculty will establish at least four new practicum sites to offer new opportunities for PMHNP students to employ TIC with children and adolescents and to participate in interprofessional teams that will support a smooth transition to practice upon graduation. The grant will also fund standardized patient experiences in URMC’s Department of Psychiatry Laboratory of Behavioral Health Skills to practice TIC skills.

Building on previous work with the “Skills Lab,” trained actors will engage PMHNP students in telehealth simulations addressing the greatest risks for patients, including suicidality and trauma. Through realistic, yet low-stakes, scenarios, students receive feedback from the patient actors and their faculty, and perform self-assessments to develop essential competencies for clinical care.

“I’m so grateful that HRSA is supporting our commitment to incorporate more trauma-informed care into our curriculum and real-life learning opportunities for our students,” said Blaakman. “Now, more than ever, we need a behavioral health workforce prepared to meet the complex needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. With our community partners, and this funding, we will have a real impact on how PMHNPs deliver care regionally and beyond while helping to address the behavioral health workforce shortage.”

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