The School of Nursing at Clemson University, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, has received a grant totaling nearly $4 million to help educate nurses on mobile health. The ultimate goal: to increase the workforce bringing healthcare to patients living in South Carolina’s rural areas.

The grant was funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The graduates from the educational programs will increase the numbers of registered nurses with diverse backgrounds providing nursing services to diverse, rural and/or underserved populations in the Appalachian and Midlands regions of South Carolina.

The grant will also enhance partnerships between the Clemson University School of Nursing with two statewide healthcare systems: Prisma Health System (Prisma Health) and the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH). Each system has mobile vans, and this grant will allow nurses and nursing faculty join those mobile van team members in delivering care to residents in Oconee and Orangeburg counties.

Related: Auburn and other Sullivan Foundation partner schools are developing rural pharmacies in the Southeast

The School of Nursing is one of several institutions nationwide to answer the HRSA’s call to strengthen the nursing workforce through education and training focused on providing quality care in rural and underserved areas. The school will admit a diverse cohort of 45 (RN/BS and MS/DNP) financially supported students for 80 hours of immersion in expanded nurse-led mobile health practice sites.

Common barriers to rural populations seeking medical care are lack of transportation, medical costs or lack of insurance. According to a 2019 report, out of 46 South Carolina counties, Oconee County ranked 11th for health outcomes, and 14.5 percent of adults delay medical care due to costs. Orangeburg County ranked 37th for health outcomes, and 17.1 percent of adults delay medical care due to costs.

The project will “bring healthcare providers to patients within their own [rural] communities and as a result, decrease delays to medical attention,” said project director and Clemson nursing professor Kathleen Valentine. “In the short term, we will educate nurses to learn this mobile model of care. In the long term, we expect that this model will be shown as effective, and our partners will provide it as an ongoing option within their healthcare systems, eventually expanding it across South Carolina.”

Additionally, these students will study rural populations, social determinants of health, professionalism, COVID and innovative healthcare technologies, mental health equity, decision-making and communication. They will also help track access and multiple health outcomes, including COVID and mental health.

This article has been edited and condensed from the original version appearing on the Clemson University website.

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