SVSU recently received a $2.8-million grant for the school of Health and Human Services to create a program aimed at turning current nurse practitioners into psychiatric nurse practitioners specializing in addiction.
The grant money will be used to create the curriculum and support the department’s new clinical academic partner, Recovery Pathways.
“Money will be used to support our clinical academic partner,” said Kathleen Schachman, the Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair in Nursing. “That clinical academic partner is called Recovery Pathways. They are an addiction center that is in Bay County, with centers spread over nine counties. They have agreed to precept some of our students.”
The money will also be given to qualifying students to help them support themselves while in the program.
“Part of the money will support the students financially,” Schachman said. “Those students who are eligible are given a stipend of $8,000, which pays for about half of their tuition and fees. It’s pretty significant and will hopefully help offset some of those costs related to attending.”
According to Schachman, out of the 4,000 nurse practitioners in Michigan, only 3 percent are psychiatric nurse practitioners. This program hopes to introduce 25 new nurses every year.
“We really hope that this makes a difference,” Schachman said. “In the whole state of Michigan, there are only 130 psychiatric nurse practitioners. By the end of this program, we’ll have 100 new psychiatric nurse practitioners. It’ll almost double the amount that is already here.”
Schachman said that rural areas in Michigan are hit the hardest with opioid overdose-related deaths. Part of this is due to lack of access to care.
“The opioid overdose death rates are higher in rural areas for a lot of reasons,” Schachman said. “One of those reasons is that these people don’t have anywhere to go for care. Even if you wanted help, you’d be traveling across several counties, and for someone who is trying to hold their life together, it just makes it difficult for them to overcome.”
Schachman encourages students to keep an open mind and try not to judge someone going through addiction. One of the best ways to help is just being there for someone struggling, as well as carrying Narcan around wherever you go.
“Have the compassion and empathy for people who have addiction problems,” Schachman said. “Also know how to save somebody’s life and with Narcan. Anybody can give it to somebody who has overdosed. I have a lot of people who I’m involved with who have had Narcan used on them, and it saved their life. They’re now in recovery and doing better.”