Unity Health Care Receives Prestigious Grant to Boost Nursing Education and Address Healthcare Workforce Challenges

Sep 12, 2023

In a significant stride toward enhancing healthcare education and workforce development, Unity Health Care proudly announces its selection as one of the 45 grant recipients of the Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) 2023 Advanced Nursing Education-Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship Program Award. The Biden-Harris Administration revealed this pivotal announcement during National Health Center Week, reaffirming its commitment to strengthening the nation's healthcare infrastructure.

The grant, totaling a substantial $700,000, holds the promise of transformative change in Unity Health Care's nursing education program and workforce. It couldn't have come at a more critical juncture, as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the national shortage of registered nurses, intensifying the urgency for strategic investments and coordinated efforts to support the nursing workforce.

Expanding the Nursing Workforce and Retaining Talent

Unity Health Care recognizes the vital role of advanced practice nurses in meeting the growing healthcare demands of the Washington, DC community. This grant represents a beacon of hope as it empowers the organization to increase the number of trained advanced practice nurses and, equally importantly, retain its existing nursing talent.

Through this grant, Unity will be able to expand its nursing education program, offering comprehensive training opportunities for aspiring nurse practitioners. It will enable the organization to attract and nurture emerging nursing talent, addressing the immediate need for healthcare professionals in a world still grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic. Additionally, it will provide opportunities for ongoing education and skill development, further enriching the capabilities of Unity's nursing workforce.

As highlighted in the 2022 Annual Report, Unity’s intensive 12-month program offers full-time salaried positions with comprehensive benefits, focusing on primary care for high-risk populations. Aileen Sentry, the Nurse Practitioner Residency Program’s first graduate, exemplifies the program’s commitment to excellence and equity. She emphasized, “I thought completing more training as a new NP was important, to ensure I was providing exceptional care to the often-vulnerable patients we see Unity.” Today, Aileen is making a significant impact at Unity’s East of the River Health Center and at the Department of Corrections. Her journey underlines the significance of deepening investments in expanding this essential program.

Nurses as Bedrock of Community Health Centers

Nurses are uniquely positioned to connect with patients on a personal level, understanding their unique needs and cultural backgrounds. They play an integral role in fostering trust within the community, which is often the first step in promoting preventive care and early intervention. Unity’s nursing workforce has been instrumental in dismantling barriers to healthcare access and driving positive health outcomes.

Deeper investments in nursing education and workforce development hold the key to mitigating the challenges inhibiting higher education institutions from educating more nurses. By providing financial support, educational resources, and mentorship opportunities, Unity aims to strengthen the pipeline of nursing talent and empower nurses to lead initiatives that tackle healthcare disparities and inequities head-on.

In these challenging times, Unity stands as a testament to the transformative potential of strategic investments in nursing education and workforce development. With the HRSA grant, Unity is poised to make a lasting impact on the healthcare landscape of Washington, DC, and beyond, continuing its mission to provide compassionate, comprehensive, high-quality healthcare that is accessible to all and advances health equity. 

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