BISMARCK, ND — The University of Mary has received a $407,249 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services that supports partnerships between academic institutions and health care systems. The grant recognizes the university’s efforts in combatting the nursing shortage and rural workforce needs of the region and country.

Dr. Billie Madler, chair of the Online and Distance Nursing Education at the University of Mary and recent Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP) inductee, says if the federal budget allows, the total amount by 2019 will grow to surpass $1-million.

“It’s a big one,” stated Madler in an interview with Lisa Gibson of Prairie Business magazine. “I feel very fortunate.”

Madler says the benefits of this funding reach far across the region. The money allows the University of Mary and Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), one of the largest healthcare providers in the country, to partner and address regional healthcare workforce needs in the rural and underserved communities of North Dakota and Minnesota. In turn, it allows students the hands-on experience in real-life settings.

“Together, the University of Mary, CHI North Dakota and Minnesota Clinic Operations (CHI North) collaboration will develop a robust curriculum focused on preparation of doctoral level family nurse practitioners (FNP) that integrates didactic and clinical training and ultimately increasing the numbers of advanced practice nurses in those communities,” added Madler. “The partnership creates parallel approaches for developing CHI clinics in ND and MN to serve as clinical training sites for graduate nursing students and thus provide opportunities for clinical experience in rural settings. These clinical placements will challenge our students with direct patient care encounters; require them to explore the epidemiology of chronic health conditions in that community; analyze health services available; determine quality standards of care; and research adherence patterns of patients.”

“Our nurses provide an invaluable service to our state, and as North Dakota has grown, so has the need for more professional nurses,” says Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., in a statement. “[This] award will help equip the University of Mary to provide advanced education to nurses, which will enable them give better and more comprehensive care.”

The University of Mary is one of only a few schools to receive funding in the Midwest.

The family nurse practitioner doctorate program at Mary is blended, incorporating online and on-site coursework. For more information contact Dr. Madler at (701) 355-8266 or visit