HOUSTON (October 25, 2017)

A program aimed at improving access to health care by increasing the number of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) is showing positive results in a report recently presented to Congress. Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center (TMC) is one of only five institutions nationwide chosen to participate in the Graduate Nurse Education (GNE) Demonstration.

The purpose of the Demonstration is to increase the number of APRNs by funding their clinical training. APRNs improve access to care and reduce healthcare costs by providing primary care, preventive care, transitional care, chronic care management, and other services.

Historically, many hospitals and healthcare institutions have been limited in their ability to provide clinical training due to cost, which consequentially affected APRN enrollment, according to The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Under the GNE Demonstration, CMS provided training reimbursement to the five participating hospitals that were required to partner with accredited schools of nursing and non-hospital community-based care settings, ensuring students also received training in underserved areas of the country where access to care is especially critical.

“Working with APRN students over the last several years has helped our office see their value as an essential aspect of primary care moving forward,” said Dr. Peter Jung, pediatrician at Blue Fish Pediatrics affiliated with Memorial Hermann Health System. “APRNs offer a desirable combination of clinical experience, seasoned bedside manner, and practical fund of knowledge which translates into high quality care for patients.”

Memorial Hermann-TMC has far exceeded its initial goal of graduating an additional 400 APRNs in four years. As of August 2016, the Demonstration had graduated 1,695 APRNs of which 98 percent are currently employed in community care settings, offering skilled, high-quality care in areas that need it most. In addition, enrollments in APRN programs at GNE schools have seen a 180 percent increase in enrollment since the beginning of the Demonstration.

“The Demonstration Project has far exceeded its goals and expectations and our participation in this innovative program is not only having a positive impact on our community, it is providing lasting benefits for hundreds of nursing students,” said Lori Hull-Grommesh, Director of the Texas Gulf Coast Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration at Memorial Hermann-TMC.

Memorial Hermann-TMC partnered with Prairie View A&M University College of Nursing, Texas Woman’s University-Houston College of Nursing, University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston School of Nursing, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing, physician groups, hospitals, community care clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers and Gateway to Care to accomplish the Demonstration goals set forth by CMS.

“My experience with the GNE has been amazing and the program is truly beneficial to both students and patients. The GNE aids in increasing the number of highly qualified nurse practitioners, which in turn increases access to care for thousands of patients in our community,” said Raymond Donato, APRN, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner.

As the Demonstration has been extended to a sixth and final year, a main focus is on the sustainability efforts of the Demonstration with the goal to continue to provide funding for APRN clinical training. Learn more about the Texas Gulf Coast Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration.