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Federal grant supports nursing students

The Binghamton University Decker School of Nursing recently received a large grant from the federal government.

The grant, which was given to the school by the Division of Nursing, a part of the Health Resources and Services Administration, is worth a total of $757,000.

It will be used to support nurse practitioner students in Decker being prepared for primary care.

“And that’s the majority of our master’s students at this point in time,” said Joyce Ferrario, dean of the Decker School of Nursing. “It provides a stipend and tuition so that they can come full-time if they want to. They don’t have to work — most of our students work as nurses — with this money they are able to quit their job or work much less often, so they can get done faster. If they’re coming part-time we can also fund them with this money, and that takes burdens off of families.”

Thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act passed last year, more people will need family doctors and insurance to pay for it, she said. Nurse practitioners are able to do many of the same jobs as doctors, such as prescribing narcotics and making diagnoses.

“We don’t have, in this country, enough primary care doctors,” Ferrario explained. “Nurse practitioners have demonstrated over the years that they can do as good a job as a physician in primary care.”

The grant money is distributed to graduate students based on their academic standing. However, a majority of students are receiving some sort of aid.

“Most of our students in the graduate program who ask for money get something,” Ferrario said. “They can either be a TA or we’ve got scholarship money that we can support them with. I think we got to about 30 students with the money this year.”

Although Binghamton University has never gone without some sort of traineeship money from the government, the amount has never been this large.

Binghamton University may have received the grant in part because many Decker grad students go on to work in rural areas around the region, particularly in underserved areas, according to Ferrario.

However, for some students, the grant came too late.

“It was hard when the grant came in because it didn’t come in until after school started. We had a lot of students that were kind of waiting for this. Some of them couldn’t wait and dropped out,” Ferrario said. “The graduate school had to match a little bit of money, about $25,000, and the dean of the graduate school very graciously allowed us to use that money even before the grant came in. We were able to take that and kind of divvy it out among the people who were waiting for money. It carried many of them over to when the grant came in.”