FMU works to expand nursing program


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FMU’s School of Health Sciences receives a 2-year federal grant worth more than $1 million that will improve the quality and availability of health care in rural areas in South Carolina

Ashely Krause , Copy Editor

FMU’s School of Health Sciences has received a two-year grant worth more than $1 million that is intended to help educate nurses as well as serve the rural areas of South Carolina.

The FMU nursing program is being expanded to bring more opportunities to its students.

Dr. Deborah Hopla, director of the Family Nurse Practitioner program at FMU, has been part of bringing these changes.

Hopla is the project director for the Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) grant. This grant gives nursing students the chance to work in areas that are normally underserved.

“The whole premise of this ANEW grant that I applied for through this government program was to allow students to do their clinicals in rural and underserved populations,” Hopla said.

The program that funded ANEW is the Health Resources and Services Administration.

FMU is one of 50 programs that were awarded grant money nationally. According to Hopla, there is one other site that received funding in South Carolina. FMU was the only to receive two years of funding.

The ANEW program assists with tuition, textbooks and living expenses for the nurses involved in the program. The goal is to give nurses the opportunity to focus solely on their education and not on the cost. This lets students make their education a priority without having to think about loans and working to pay for school.

“This takes some of the pressure off of them so they can focus on learning the material they have to learn and being able to go out there and practice,” Hopla said.

Many of the students in the nursing program come from the Pee Dee.

“This grant is a lifesaver,” Hopla said. “We pull people from the Pee Dee area. You are looking at a greatly underserved and rural area.”

Many towns in South Carolina have only a handful of health care professionals working to help that area, according to Hopla.

“Lynchburg has no primary care for providers,” Hopla said. “Pamplico only has two people: a nurse practitioner and a physician.”

With this grant Hopla feels that the way health care is done in South Carolina can slowly be changed.

“South Carolina currently ranks an F in health care,” Hopla said. “We are trying to change that with this grant.”

Through the grants that FMU has been awarded the nursing program has been able to build itself up and change the education of young nurses.

“We are trying to change health care by letting nurse practitioners get out there and to be able to practice in rural and underserved areas,” Hopla said.

FMU currently has a masters program for nursing students. The university has also been working to establish a nursing doctorate program.

The ANEW grant has offered the nursing program a chance to grow and help areas of South Carolina that are in need. Hopla said the long term goal for this program is to change the face of health care in the state.