Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Graduate Nursing and College of Allied Health Professions received state funding for the second consecutive year to serve vulnerable and underserved populations.

California created the Song-Brown Program in 1973 to increase the number of family practitioners providing needed medical services to Californians. The program encourages universities and primary care health professionals to provide health care in medically underserved areas, and provides financial support to family practice residency, family nurse practitioner, physician assistant, and registered nurse education programs throughout California.

The College of Graduate Nursing (CGN) will receive $288,625 from the 2015-16 California Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development Song-Brown program. The funds are designated for three purposes: clinical rotation grants for incoming fall 2015 Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) students; a community outreach and liaison faculty for FNP Clinical rotations in areas of unmet health care needs; and improved technology for the development of a distance interprofessional learning community program for FNP students.

CGN received $181,976 from the Song-Brown program last year, which was used to hire Amanda Imai, FNP-BC, MSN, as an outreach/community liaison coordinator. Imai is establishing relationships with programs in underserved areas in the Central Valley, Santa Ana and Los Angeles. In the first half of this funding cycle, CGN has brought in 16 new clinics for students to rotate through, said Diana Lithgow, PhD, FNP, RN-BC, CGN Director of FNP Program and Assistant Dean of Distance Operations.

“The WesternU nurse practitioner program is statewide,” she said. “The goal is to get students to do clinical rotations in underserved areas so they feel more comfortable providing care there, and maybe upon graduation they will choose to work there.”

CGN partnered with the College of Optometry for distance learning. College of Optometry Assistant Professor Jasmine Yumori, OD, FAAO, conducted a webinar on red eye for FNP students. Some students participated in person and other students listened to the lecture remotely. CGN plans to partner with all of WesternU’s colleges to provide distance interprofessional learning.

“Our goal is to upgrade our technology to offer these in real time and with better interactive connectedness,” Lithgow said. “Then we can also use it for our students in remote distance clinical rotations.”

The Department of Physician Assistant Education, part of the College of Allied Health Professions, will receive about $177,000 from the Song-Brown program in 2015-16. The program received $81,242 last year. The money will be used in a manner similar to last year, to help second-year students prepare for their Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam. Students will enroll in an online review and participate in online lectures. The grant will also allow students to receive two board review books, and will make tutoring available for first- and second-year students who need extra help in the program.

“Song-Brown funding will help students to achieve higher board scores,” said Department of Physician Assistant Education Chair Roy Guizado, MS, PA-C. “They’re entitled to online reviews and mock board exams, and they are also furnished tutor review books that they can use throughout their second year to prepare for boards and their coursework.”