July 18, 2017

Purdue School of Nursing receives grant to fund mental health nurse practitioner program

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue University School of Nursing has received a grant from North Central Health Services to fund the creation and implementation of a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner program.

NCHS approached Purdue nursing along with representatives of the Mental Health Forum of Tippecanoe County, which represents community organizations and leaders, about building a program to help alleviate the shortage of mental health providers in Greater Lafayette and surrounding counties. While the school’s three primary care nurse practitioner programs have long integrated mental health assessment and care into their curriculum, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners are uniquely qualified to help to alleviate the shortage.

In 2014, Indiana ranked 45th of the 50 states for access to mental health care. The Indiana State Department of Health has designated Tippecanoe County a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area.

According to Stephanie Long, president and CEO of NCHS, “This grant aligns with the 2015 River Bend Hospital Community Health Needs Assessment-documented mental health care workforce shortage. The new program has the potential to significantly impact this shortage by nearly doubling the number of PMHNPs trained in Indiana every year. We’re excited to work with the Purdue School of Nursing to expand the PMHNP workforce, as the school has excellent job placement rates, and a high percentage of the school’s graduates remain in Indiana to practice.”

Jane Kirkpatrick, head of Purdue School of Nursing, notes, “Meeting the needs of our community is part of the land-grant mission of the university, and we are pleased to partner with NCHS to launch this important new program.”

Michael Budd, CEO of United Way of Greater Lafayette, said “The shortage of mental health professionals in our local community and across the state has made it difficult for many patients to receive needed care due to long wait times. The Mental Healthcare Forum was formed to look for solutions to this challenge, and we’re excited to see the Purdue School of Nursing and NCHS partnering to implement this important program that we believe will greatly improve the delivery of mental health services in our community and across the state.”

Nancy Edwards, director of the Purdue adult gerontology nurse practitioner program and project director, notes that the three proposed pathways allow the PSON to meet the needs of a variety of students and to graduate quality psychiatric mental health-care nurse practitioners to help meet the mental health needs in Tippecanoe County and throughout the state.

There are three pathways to achieve the degree: a one-year certificate program designed for nurses who already hold advanced practice status in another specialty; a two-year post BSN to master’s degree, and a three-year post-BSN to doctor of nursing practice. Graduates will be qualified to take the national certification as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

The four-year $734,383 grant begins August. Development of the courses will take place in the fall of 2017, with the first students enrolling in summer 2018. It is anticipated that the first APRN certificate cohort graduation will occur in May 2019.

Edwards anticipates that because 80 percent of Purdue’s nurse practitioner graduates practice in Indiana, this program can help to alleviate the mental health-care provider shortage in both the local community and state.

North Central Health Services was created in 1984 to serve as the parent company of a family of corporations, which included Lafayette Home Hospital, Home Hospital Foundation, and Service Frontiers Inc. Today, NCHS has a primary responsibility to operate River Bend Hospital, a nonprofit inpatient psychiatric hospital. NCHS also provides grants to qualified nonprofits primarily for capital projects and initiates strategic funding partnerships to directly address the most critical community health needs in the NCHS service area, prioritizing substance abuse and mental health care. 

Media Contact: Tim Doty, 765-496-2571, doty2@purdue.edu

Sources: Nancy Edwards, edwardsn@purdue.edu

Jane Kirkpatrick, jmkirk@purdue.edu

Michael Budd, mbudd@uw.lafayette.in.us

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