AURORA, Colo. (May 31, 2023) – The Montana Office of Rural Health/AHEC, the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence (CNE), and Colleges of Nursing at the University of Colorado, Montana State University, North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University, Utah, and Wyoming have partnered to create a clinical nursing faculty & preceptor academy (CFPA) for the Rocky Mountain region. This program provides training and tools to strengthen and support clinical nursing faculty and preceptors working in rural and frontier parts of the mountain west.
The program is being led by Montana State University’s Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing, who received a $4 million grant to lead the efforts to strengthen clinical faculty and preceptor training in rural states across the West.
The grant, which comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration, will be administered by MSU and the university’s Montana Office of Rural Health and Area Health Education Center.
The goal of the project – called the Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention Program - Clinical Faculty and Preceptor Academies – is to increase the number of qualified clinical nursing faculty and preceptors across HHS Region 8, which includes Montana, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. While those states make up 15.4% of the country’s geographic area, they are home to just 3.7% of its population. This low population density amplifies the challenges of accessing health care facilities for student clinical experiences and finding qualified clinical preceptors – nursing professionals who oversee student clinical experiences.
“As the demand for nurses grows in the United States, so does the demand for both nurse preceptors and clinical sites,” said CU Nursing’s Dean Elias Provencio-Vasquez, PhD. “Unfortunately, the supply of preceptors has not kept up with demand, resulting in a growing shortfall. This need has a domino effect, reducing the number of qualified students that nursing schools can accept.”
Combined with faculty shortages across the nation, the shortage of nursing preceptors significantly limits the growth of nursing education programs and the production of new nurses for the workforce. According to recent data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, enrollment in nursing programs has declined because of the shortage of faculty and clinical training sites. “This program will help open up new training opportunities for our students, allowing us to potentially grow our class sizes,” said Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Principal Investigator on the grant Kelly Stamp, PhD.
With the grant funding, a team including representatives from each of the six participating states will create and implement curriculum designed to prepare existing professional nurses to be preceptors. According to Stamp, “They will be trained in clinical education methods for nursing students, with the aim of increasing the states’ capacity to educate nursing students and thereby enlarge the nursing workforce.” Many of the educational opportunities will include stipends to incentivize completing the trainings, since some nurses may have to take time off from their existing work to complete the continuing education.
The project will include collaboration between MSU and the nursing colleges in each of those six regional states, and each state will uniquely implement the developed curriculum, according to Fara Bowler, associate professor and senior director of the Experiential Learning Program at CU Nursing. The four-year project aims to train and support close to 900 clinical faculty and preceptors. In addition to the academic institutions in the region’s states, Bowler said health care facilities were quick to voice their support for the project. “Employers are having an issue filling nursing positions and staffing their facilities. They see the benefit of a program like this.”
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