By Mimi Whetstone

Madonna University announced this winter, the new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program will receive additional funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration. MU was awarded the funding from an HRSA grant for “Impacting Health Disparities by Developing a Consortium Model for DNP Programs in Partnership with Health Systems.”

Secured by Madonna nursing faculty members Sue Hasenau, Teresa Thompson, Diane Burgermeister and Nancy O’Connor with the assistance of Lisa Comben, Director for Corporate and Foundations, the grant will provide more than $700,000 over a three-year period: July 1 through June 30, 2012. The award will provide $244,095 the first year, $249,052 the second and $240,811 the third.

“For me, the process began by having the opportunity to attend a professional grant writing workshop the summer of 2008, which occurred before actually working on the HRSA grant,” said Burgermeister, an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing and Health. “I attended with Drs. O’Connor and Hasenau, and learned about the major aspects of writing a grant and creating a proposal that focused upon a potential for having a high impact.”

With the initiation of the DNP program in the College of Nursing and Health at Madonna, O’Connor, chair of the Graduate Nursing Program, began exploring funding opportunities. The HRSA, through its Advanced Education Nursing Grants program, offers grants to encourage advanced-practice nursing with a funding preference for programs that would substantially benefit rural or underserved populations, or help meet public health nursing needs in state or local health departments.

“I worked with Dr. O’Connor and Dr. Hasenau in gathering all the required materials, uploading and submitting the completed application to the HRSA,” said Comben. “Federal grant applications require a number of documents—official forms, project narrative, project budget, budget narrative, project abstract, biographical sketches for key personnel, support letters, and a host of other documents. Once all the documents and forms are completed, the application is submitted via the federal government’s online grant system.”

The grant was attained through a joint effort between the nursing departments at Madonna and the University of Detroit-Mercy, although Madonna is the lead applicant and project administrator.

“To strengthen our position for the grant, we initiated a conversation with the faculty at University of Detroit McCauley School of Nursing to join us in the grant. They were in the final planning stage of beginning their DNP program,” said Hasenau, a Professor at the College of Nursing and Health. “HRSA encourages communities and groups collaborating for grant projects. Madonna University and the University of Detroit share a common mission and health care focus and were pleased to join us in the grant development.”

The grant’s objectives are to reduce the inequality in health care among certain populations and to address the nursing shortage by preparing nurses with practice doctorates who will work as faculty members and leaders in clinical and administrative practice, and to prepare advanced education nurses through the enhancement of nursing education and practice.

“Our goal is to improve mental health competency among faculty and DNP students by providing workshops to faculty and by creating a new mental health elective course for students within the new DNP program,” said Burgermeister. “The Wellstone-Domenici Law requires parity in the coverage of mental and physical illnesses; so the trend will be to provide mental health care within primary care settings. Health care professionals will need to be prepared to understand and address the complexity of the relationship between physical health and mental health.”

Specifically, the project addresses three goals. The first is the expansion of the graduate nursing programs of Madonna and UD-Mercy through the addition of two post-MSN DNP degree programs to prepare nurses at the highest level of nursing practice to impact health disparities.

The second is the development of a partnership model with identified health systems in southeast Michigan serving underserved and culturally diverse populations for DNP student practicum experiences.

The project also serves to form of a consortium model between the schools to enhance educational quality and student diversity within both DNP programs.

“It is hoped that through greater knowledge, reflection upon one’s own beliefs and values and how those beliefs and values influence practice, and by attaining increased competence in skills,” Burgermeister said, “that this will facilitate providing quality and appropriate care to those suffering from mental health conditions.

“Since about 50 percent of the U.S. population will at some time be diagnosed with a mental health condition, preparation of these professionals will benefit us all.  Nursing students in all levels of educational programs at Madonna will also benefit, since what we learn as faculty can be shared with as many students as possible.”

In addition, three main focal areas were developed aimed at reducing health disparities in the practice area through the development of cultural competencies, mental health care needs, and social justice and community engagement activities.

“We are midway through our first cohort of 22 DNP students who are exceptional in their enthusiasm and experience,” Hasenau said. “We are now in the process of finalizing our second cohort of 12-14 students who will be starting the program with the spring/summer 2010 session.”


Madonna faculty members obtain grant for healthcare