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ETSU College of Nursing receives $1.8 million grant

A $1.8 million grant has been awarded to the College of Nursing at East Tennessee State University to launch a new model to be used for preparing and mentoring nurse practitioners who serve as clinical faculty preceptors for graduate students.

In nursing education programs, clinical preceptors are typically nurses and nurse practitioners, who work in health care centers and supervise students but are not full-time faculty members.

“These preceptors play a vital role in educating our future nurses and nurse practitioners and it is crucial that we provide them with proper training and support so they can be effective in these roles,” said Dr. Christy Hall, project director and assistant professor in ETSU’s College of Nursing. 

In the project, which is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, Hall and the grant team will focus specifically on graduate nursing education and the nurse practitioners who serve as preceptors.

According to Hall, the new model is called Student and Preceptor Advancement in a Designated Education Site (SPADES).

“In undergraduate nursing education, Dedicated Education Units are areas within the acute care setting that are designated as training areas,” Hall said.  “With this new grant project, we are establishing the concept of a Dedicated Education Site, where an entire primary care site is used for preparing nurse practitioners.”

The new model will be tested at the Johnson City Community Health Center and will eventually be implemented at the Hancock County School-Based Health Centers in Sneedville.

Hall and her research team will focus on the preparation of preceptors at those sites on such issues as communication, competency development, teaching and evaluating students, and conflict management, among others.

“I am especially excited about the Rapid Cycle Quality Improvement strategies we will be using that will involve collecting audio recordings of preceptors and students giving feedback on the overall teaching and learning process, and using that information to make quick adjustments as needed,” said Hall, who noted that graduate nursing students at ETSU are required to have 1,000 hours of clinical time, usually supervised by a preceptor.

Joining Hall on the grant project are Drs. Sandy Diffenderfer and April Stidham from the College of Nursing.  The initiative is expected to last for three years.

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