The UCF College of Nursing has received a competitive grant in the amount of $700,000 for two academic years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA). The college will receive $350,000 each academic year to support nurse practitioner students through the Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship (AENT) program.

This competitive grant was created by HRSA to support the preparation of nurse practitioners, particularly those from underserved areas and those who plan to work within rural and/or medically underserved communities.

Thanks to the AENT grant, the College of Nursing has selected 23 Primary Care Scholars from the Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs to receive the grant funding. Eight full-time nurse practitioner students are each receiving $21,438 for the 2014-5 academic year, while 15 part-time students in their final year of preparation as nurse practitioners are each receiving $10,929.

“All of our Primary Care Scholars are already serving communities in need, whether through their employment or through volunteering,” said Susan K. Chase, associate dean for graduate affairs in the College of Nursing. “It was difficult to narrow our selection to just 23 students deserving of this grant award.”

Awardee Alina M. Collins, a master’s student studying to become a family nurse practitioner, says, “in the future, I would love to be a part of a united front in helping the medically underserved. If given the time and opportunity, we have the potential to improve the health and well-being of thousands of individuals in this world.”

Raised by a single mother who depended on welfare, awardee Brittany Ballard, a DNP student, knows the struggle all too well and is compelled to help those in need.

“As I venture into my career as a (family) nurse practitioner, my ultimate goal is to identify, empower and save lives in underserved communities,” wrote Ballard to the grant committee.

The College of Nursing has been the recipient of several AENT grants in the past. This is the college’s first award since the traineeship application process became competitive in 2012.

“Scholarships and grants are critical for our graduate students,” said Chase. “These students often are supporting a family and must continue to work while pursuing their advanced degree. The traineeship grants will help alleviate some of this financial burden and allow them to focus on school.”

The traineeship grant aligns with the college’s goals of increasing the diversity of students enrolled in the nurse practitioner programs at UCF, accelerating the graduation rates of nurse practitioner students enrolled at UCF, and increasing the proportion of family nurse practitioner and adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner graduates who begin their employment in primary care settings within rural and undeserved communities.