Rural health is focus of two grants received by UNMC Allied Health program

$1.6 million in funding will support conferences for physician assistants, research study on fall prevention

Improving health care in rural communities will be the focus of two grants received by the University of Nebraska Medical Center School of Allied Health Professions (SAHP).

The grants, which total almost $1.6 million, will allow UNMC to:

  • Host two national conferences geared to physician assistants (PA) and their key role in providing primary care in rural communities; and
  • Conduct interdisciplinary research on the prevention of falls in critical access hospitals.

"With this federal grant funding, our allied health faculty will play an increasing role in promoting health and health care in Nebraska and throughout the country," said M. Patricia Leuschen, Ph.D., assistant dean for research development in the SAHP.

UNMC is one of only 12 universities to receive funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) PA Training in Primary Care grant. The grant provides $993,910 over five years and represents the largest federal grant ever received by UNMC's physician assistant education program. With the funding, UNMC will host a biennial Physician Assistants Rural Primary Care National Conference in 2014 and 2016.

The grant's primary goal is to increase the number of PA graduates in Nebraska who become primary care clinicians, particularly those who will provide care to underserved populations. Michael Huckabee, Ph.D., director of physician assistant education, and Kyle Meyer, Ph.D., senior associate dean for the School of Allied Health Professions, are co-primary investigators.

The second grant is from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Katherine Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy education, is primary investigator on the $593,088 grant. The primary aim of the grant is to improve patient care and safety by reducing inpatient falls in critical access hospitals that primarily serve rural older adult populations. 

Using an interprofessional team approach, the research project will help hospitals incorporate four practices for fall risk reduction by providing support from a culture of safety, teamwork and organizational learning.

The research project team, with representatives from UNMC, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, The Nebraska Medical Center and Methodist Hospital, will collaborate with 20 partner hospitals to conduct the research, including 17 critical access hospitals. 

"Improving access to primary care and promoting high quality, safe care are two critical elements of health care reform," Dr. Leuschen said. "This funding underscores the significant role for the allied health professions and the SAHP in the reform effort."

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu.



Tom O'Connor
UNMC Public Relations
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Kalani Simpson
UNMC Public Relations
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