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College of Nursing to Address Shortage of Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Midwives

A Black health care provider in a white coat is seated next to a Black pregnant person who is reclined on an exam chair and he is showing her something on a clipboard

Through a $2.6 million grant from the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), the UIC College of Nursing is addressing the shortage of skilled practitioners in women’s health, especially in communities of color. Part of HRSA’s Advanced Nursing Education Workforce program, the four-year grant will support scholarships for students in the college’s nurse-midwifery and women’s health nurse practitioner programs, particularly for students who come from communities that are underrepresented in healthcare. An innovative feature of the grant will be providing training to allow the practitioners to directly prescribe medication for mental health and substance use disorders.

Dr. Patrick Thornton, principal investigator for the project, observed that overdoses, homicide and suicide make up about 42% of pregnancy-related deaths “One of the things we wanted to do with this grant is to graduate our midwives and NPs with a background and comfort level of [prescribing medications] so we can skip that step of having to refer someone for basic treatment,” he said. “There’s evidence that’s more effective than making referrals to buprenorphine clinics.”