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FNP-HEART Program Purpose

Since its inception in 2003, the LCON Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program has prepared advanced practice nurses in the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and post-graduate certificate program to deliver primary healthcare to individuals and families across the lifespan and health continuums. Students are provided with extensive knowledge and state-of-the-art clinical skills necessary for health promotion, disease prevention, assessment, and management of common acute and chronic illnesses.

Through our FNP students and graduates, faculty and preceptors at our Lambuth Campus that is in small/semi-rural Jackson, Tennessee, LCON has learned that the challenges in achieving equitable access to health services is greatly dependent upon health practitioners’ willingness to practice in remote, rural, and poverty-stricken underserved areas.  Clearly, healthcare professionals are needed in rural and underserved communities and a multi-pronged strategy is required to help meet the needs of underserved communities.

In alignment with the training needs of LCON’s FNP degree program and recommendations from national nursing organizations and the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Program (ANEW) funding Opportunity HRSA-19-003, the University of Memphis’ LCON Family Nurse Practitioner – Health Education & Access for Rural Tennesseans (FNP-HEART) program is designed to decrease primary care and mental health professional shortages and improve health disparities for medically underserved populations/areas in HRSA-designated rural areas in West Tennessee.

The specific purpose of FNP-HEART program is to:

  • Establish and sustain five new formalized Academic Practice Partnerships with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health Clinics (RHC) to provide FNP students with comprehensive longitudinal, community-based clinical immersion experiences in rural primary care settings in eight rural counties—Carroll, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Lauderdale, and McNairy. 
  • Increase the number, diversity and culturally-inclusive readiness of FNPs in TN by providing traineeships funds for up to 80 FNP students living in and/or intending to practice in rural underserved areas of West Tennessee.
  • Enhance preceptor quality and satisfaction through the development of an electronic management system for recruiting, training, mentoring and evaluating primary care preceptors in rural and underserved areas in eight West TN counties.
  • Design didactic education and clinical training for FNP students to include diabetes management, telehealth, simulated rural health modules, value-based delivery and quality improvement initiatives, and the assessment, management and referral for treatment for mental health across the life spectrum and substance use disorders including opioid abuse in West Tennessee’s HRSA designated HPSAs for Primary Care and Mental Health.  
  • Provide critical workforce development training for FNP students and link program graduates to satisfying professional career employment opportunities for FNPs in rural West Tennessee’s HRSA designated HPSAs for Primary Care and Mental Health. 

Additionally, the FNP-HEART program supports HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce foci of

  1. Preparing a quality, skilled based workforce through community-based training;
  2. Improving workforce distribution in rural and underserved areas; and
  3. Advancing modern healthcare through telehealth.  

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) recognizes that rural Americans face a myriad of obstacles when accessing healthcare services, including a stretched and diminishing rural health workforce.  Throughout the United States and Tennessee, the supply of primary healthcare providers cannot meet the demand for services.  The FNP-HEART program will strengthen the regional primary care workforce by developing FNPs through APP and by retaining FNP students transitioning to Tennessee rural practices after graduating from a wholistic, high-quality FNP degree program offered by LCON.

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