R.I. awards $1.3 million to URI for health care workforce training

THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE of Health and Human Services awarded $1.5 million to URI to create programs to train health care professionals of the future. / COURTESY URI
THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE of Health and Human Services awarded $1.5 million to URI to create programs to train health care professionals of the future. / COURTESY URI

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Rhode Island’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services has awarded $1.3 million from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to the University of Rhode Island to create training programs preparing graduates for future medical professions.

The funding comes from about $130 million in matching funds awarded to the state in 2016 by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Most of the award was earmarked for reworking Medicaid, according to a report by RIPR. But about five percent was set aside for workforce development to train future medical workers.

“For 2018, more than $1.5 million will flow back to URI, funding 11 new projects being used to promote improved access and quality of care for Medicaid beneficiaries in Rhode Island,” said Bryan Blissmer, director of URI’s Institute for Integrated Health and Innovation, which is spearheading the University’s involvement.

The Institute is part of URI’s Academic Health Collaborative, which comprises the Colleges of Health Sciences, Nursing and Pharmacy, according to Linda Acciardo, spokeswoman for the University. The Institute provides research, evaluation and programmatic expertise to the University, she said.

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“Reforming the state’s healthcare system requires partnership, initiative and commitment from all healthcare stakeholders including private sector payers, providers, publicly-funded healthcare systems and advocates to ensure we keep our focus on improved outcomes, better care and lower cost,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Eric J. Beane.  “This strategic investment in education will support future job growth in Rhode Island.”

The funds will be used for 11 programs and projects, which include degree and non-degree training, will be added to the schools of Pharmacy, Nursing, Accounting and Psychology:

  • Enhancement of a Home-based Primary Care Program — College of Nursing, $152,909.
  • Interpersonal Team Education and Evaluation — College of Health Sciences, $268,625.
  • Teaching Health Care Management Core Concepts: Core Concepts of Health Transformation — College of Business Administration, $47,206.
  • Health System Transformation Concepts: Self-paced Learning for Health Care Professionals — College of Nursing, $119,513.
  • The R.I. Generating Healthcare Transformation Project — College of Health Sciences, $150,470.
  • Establishing a URI Interprofessional Collaboration Center of Excellence — College of Pharmacy, $156,146.
  • Nurses for Obesity Prevention: A Need for Education — College of Health Sciences, $66,683.
  • Developing and Training Health Professionals in Rhode Island Communities — College of Health Sciences, $85,193.
  • URI Academic Collaborations Officers embedded at Rhode Island Department of Health — College of Pharmacy, $60,481.
  • Interprofessional Workforce Development — College of Health Sciences, $138,015.
  • Five-year Master’s Degree in Mental and Behavioral Health Counseling — College of Health Sciences, $61,538.

Each of the programs addresses an anticipated future need in the healthcare field. The Master’s Degree in Mental and Behavioral Health Counseling, for instance, will investigate the feasibility and costs of an accelerated, five-year program in that area, said Ashley O’Shea, communications director at the EOHHS.

The R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals and others have highlighted the need for qualified (licensed) personnel to work in mental and behavioral health fields, O’Shea said.

Some faculty are working on curricular issues and others, like the Self-paced Learning for Health Care Professionals, in webinar form, have already begun, Blissmer said.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.