Effort to provide quality health care in Arizona gets a big boost

ASU nursing college receives grant to fund scholars program focused on helping rural, medically underserved Arizonans

August 7, 2018

The college experience is about stretching beyond your comfort zone to learn from new and sometimes challenging situations, shattering preconceived notions in the process.

That is a central theme of the new Arizona Area Health Education Centers Scholars Program or ASP. The two-year interprofessional program includes community-based training in underserved settings across the state and more. E.J. Miles, FNP Student talks with medical assistant Noemi Galarza ASU student E.J. Miles (standing) works with medical assistant Noemi Galarza at Wesley Clinic, an urban underserved Federally Qualified Health Center. Photo by College of Nursing and Health Innovation Download Full Image

Students enrolled in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation Doctor of Nursing Practice program can apply to be a fellow in the scholars program.

“The primary aim is to provide interprofessional education and experience in core topic areas regarding social determinants of health and cultural competency while providing clinical and project-oriented experiences for students that counter population stereotypes," said Diane E. Nuñez, clinical associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation. "Students engage in practice transformation in emerging health issues to influence their perceptions of rural and urban underserved populations to inspire a future career in these areas.” 

The need is great. From geographical to financial, barriers to quality health care exist on a large scale across the state. As a result, people are suffering. 

Nuñez heads up a similar program that places interested students in rural areas for clinical rotations but it doesn’t have the structure, curriculum or interprofessional elements of the ASP.

Some of Nuñez’s past participants said it's one thing to learn about the hardships and lack of access to care in the classroom but it’s another thing to see it up close.

“I was able to witness firsthand the critical need for health care practitioners in these areas. It has certainly enriched my academic and clinical experience,” said ASU alumna Michele Javadpoor, who completed her rotation at a clinic near the Arizona-Mexico border.

Because students will have to travel and in some cases stay overnight in communities outside of metro Phoenix, financial support is key. Students get a stipend to cover their costs. Without it, many students would not be able to take part.  

The funding for ASP comes from a part of a recently awarded $2.5 million grant. ASU, along with the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, receives a portion of those funds.

“This is an investment in our students and the people of Arizona and fits perfectly with our mission at the college, which is to work toward innovative solutions to improve the health and well-being of all our communities no matter where they are in the state,” said Judith Karshmer, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

The scholars program is in addition to the college’s already demanding DNP coursework.

“We call it a value-added component to their program, so when possible, we try to tailor their existing academic requirements to be focused on vulnerable populations and communities,” Nuñez said.

The college’s current program has had some success in expanding minds and changing perceptions.

Past participant Jessica Sandler recounted her eye-opening experience while completing a primary-care rotation in Globe.

“The lack of health care access creates and sustains a vicious cycle that contributes to patients’ having multiple medical issues simultaneously. Because of this exposure I am even more determined as a future advanced-practice nurse to do what I can to improve the quality of life in the underserved populations,” Sandler said.

Exposure is a game-changer. The hope is that by adding ASP to the college’s efforts to deliver health care statewide, more students will get involved — and stay involved after graduation.

“If students don’t get these experiences in school, it is unlikely that they’ll take a job in these communities,” Nuñez said. “You give them the opportunity to go there and then they recognize the inherent strength and resilience of those communities.”  

For more information on ASP visit the resource website or email Nuñez at diane.nunez@asu.edu

About Arizona Area Health Education Centers

The AzAHEC project will develop and enhance health education and training networks within communities and academic institutions to increase diversity among health professionals, broaden the distribution of the health workforce, enhance health-care quality, and improve health-care delivery to Arizona’s rural and underserved areas and populations.

The award provides support to maintain, develop and enhance strategic partnerships through five regional centers covering all 15 Arizona counties, as well as 22 federally recognized Native American tribes. Now in its 24th year of model federal Area Health Education Centers funding (and sustained funding since its inception in 1984), the Arizona Area Health Education Centers program is a critical health professions workforce development program for Arizona’s rural and urban underserved communities, addressing all levels of health-care career development. With funds from the grant and the Arizona State Lottery, the program has been working to recruit and provide training for high school students and pre-health professions undergraduates, creating a health professions pipeline to help ensure health care for generations to come.  

The grant also provides field placements and clinical rotations for health professions students, particularly those enrolled in the Rural Health Professions Program at the UA, ASU and NAU, as well as health professions students from other public and private schools within Arizona and throughout the nation.

This funding also allowed the creation of the AHEC Scholars Program, a two-year interprofessional program comprising lectures and community-based training conducted in rural and/or underserved settings within each of the AzAHEC five regional centers. To become an AHEC Scholar, students from the UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University must apply and be accepted into their participating college’s Rural Health Professions Program. A $2,000 stipend is provided for students participating as AHEC Scholar Fellows.

The funding also provides continuing education for currently practicing health professionals within the state. The five-year grant continues through August 2022 and includes a statewide outcome-focused evaluation plan.

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation


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ASU opens Greek Leadership Village housing community

ASU opens Greek Leadership Village housing complex for 950 students.
August 7, 2018

All Greek organizations can collaborate on philanthropy in new community center

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2018 here.

Arizona State University is opening its second new student-housing complex in two years this week as undergraduates start moving into the Greek Leadership Village.

The community, at Rural and Terrace roads on the east side of the Tempe campus, will house about 950 fraternity and sorority members in a cluster of townhouse-style dwellings. The village will include 27 Greek chapters in three- or four-story townhouses, each ranging from 19 to 41 beds for sophomores, juniors and seniors, who will start moving in Wednesday.

The Greek Leadership Village, the first community of its kind at ASU and among the first in the country, follows Tooker House, a 1,600-student housing and learning complex for engineering majors that opened a year ago on the north side of the Tempe campus.

The centerpiece of the Greek Leadership Village is a 33,000-square-foot community center with office and activity space for every chapter at ASU, not just those with housing in the village. The community center, which includes retail space and a ballroom, also will house all five governing councilsThe five governing councils are the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association, the Multicultural Greek Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations. of Greek life, according to Gary Ballinger, director of fraternity and sorority life at ASU.

“The Greek Leadership Community Center and the Greek Leadership Village is an example of what creative and engaged students can do with the support of staff,” Ballinger said.

“This project allows for the entire fraternity and sorority community to have one centralized location to work with each other; host chapter meetings, study tables and philanthropy events; and engage in meaningful educational opportunities. It has the potential to change the footprint of fraternity and sorority life and the community beyond the borders of campus.”

At ASU, about 5,000 students are active members of 77 sororities and fraternities — about 9 percent of the undergraduate population. The average chapter size is about 70 members, although that varies widely, with some sororities having more than 200 members. In the 2016–17 academic year, the sorority and fraternity community performed more than 118,000 hours of community service and raised more than $548,000 for charity.

The 12 sororities and 15 fraternities housed in the Greek Leadership Village were selected after an application process that required financial information, conduct history, a roster of residents, a letter of support from the national organization and a pitch on how the chapter could contribute to the community, Ballinger said.

Each townhouse includes a kitchen, meeting space, a president’s suite and a patio on the ground floor, with bedrooms, communal bathrooms and a balcony on the upper floors. The individual chapters paid to upgrade some of the units with specialized flooring and surfaces. The gated complex is built around two grassy courtyards with picnic tables, grills and lounge seating. There is no pool. Each chapter selected the students who will live in its house.

The cost per student is $7,900 per year. Other ASU housing on the Tempe campus ranges from about $6,100 to about $10,000 per year.

The Greek Leadership Village is the culmination of a student-led process that began in 2012, when Greek organizations began proposing the idea of a communal living space. A student committee began looking at Greek housing communities at other universities. In 2016, the chapters involved their national organizations and alumni, and the Arizona Board of Regents approved the building plan. The application process began in 2017.

greek village

Alpha Phi Alpha alums Gerald Richard, left, and Tafari Osayande talk on a balcony overlooking the central courtyard at the new Greek Leadership Village on the Tempe campus during an alumni tour in May. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

ASU built the 300,000-square-foot, $70 million project in conjunction with American Campus Communities, which is managing the 6-acre complex.

In May, ASU invited some Greek organization alumni to tour the complex as construction was underway. One of the visitors was Twig Johnson, who attended ASU in the 1970s and was a member of Pi Beta Phi, one of the sororities that has a chapter house in Greek Leadership Village.

“I think this is fabulous. Look how close they are to campus,” she said. “When we were in school, we had nothing like this.”

Top photo: The newly completed Greek Leadership Village, on the east side of the Tempe campus, is completed and ready for residents. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News