North Dakota State University and Essentia Health have partnered on a nurse practitioner residency program in rural clinics.

Teresa Formo, a nurse practitioner in family medicine at the Essentia Health clinic in Jamestown, completed the 12-month residency in September.

NDSU’s School of Nursing received a four-year $1.57 million federal grant three years ago to help advance the skills of rural nurse practitioners. The partnership between NDSU and Essentia Health involves nurse practitioners working in rural Essentia Health clinics, ensuring those patients continue to have immediate access to high-quality health care.

The award expanded Essentia Health’s current Transition to Practice program into a Nurse Practitioner Residency Program for new graduates. Addressing a significant gap in health care, it better prepares nurse practitioner graduates for rural-care practice through enhanced educational content, procedural training and immersive clinical experiences.

“Essentia Health is committed to providing high-quality care to all of the communities we are privileged to serve,” said Christie Erickson, DNP, director of Essentia’s Transition To Practice program. “Our nurse practitioners working in rural clinics are key to providing this care, highlighting the value of this partnership that will offer enhanced educational opportunities.”

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The NDSU/Essentia program has trained eight nurse practitioners so far, who remain in rural, underserved Essentia Health clinics in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, where they were hired and completed a residency program.

“Rural nurse practitioners often treat a wide range of complex conditions, as well as perform many procedures that are not as common in urban primary care,” said Mykell Barnacle, assistant professor of nursing practice at NDSU and the project’s director. “This type of care is often practiced without the benefit of in-office colleagues or easy access to specialists. Highly prepared nurse practitioners who function at the highest scope of practice benefit rural patients and communities.”

The goal of the Nurse Practitioner Residency Program is to expand Essentia Health's Transition to Practice initiative, further enhancing nurse practitioner skills and competencies to improve the health of rural and underserved populations.

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