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June 25, 2021

Herzing University Receives Grant to Boost Behavioral Health Education

Herzing University Receives Grant to Boost Behavioral Health Education

Federal funding provides $1.92 million toward online nursing master's program

Herzing University has been awarded a $1.92 million federal grant to help improve the health of underserved and vulnerable populations through its Master of Science in Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program.

The grant was announced through the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program for Professionals. It will fund a new Herzing program called Every Experience Counts, which is designed to educate underrepresented minorities to serve as mental health nurse practitioners in mental health and primary care settings in high-need, high-demand areas.

In the six states where Herzing has campuses – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin – there is a disproportionate number of residents living in medically underserved areas, especially as it relates to mental health care.

"Mental health care is a persistent need in underserved communities and Herzing University is proud to educate professionals who can lead diagnosis and treatment efforts," said Herzing University President Renee Herzing. "The Every Experience Counts program and this grant align with our mission of access to education and healthcare, empowerment of individuals, and strengthening of our communities."

The grant will allow Herzing University to educate and train 120 students in the PMHNP program through 2025. The online PMHNP program prepares students to apply for board certification as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners provide care to people across the life span with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders, while promoting mental health awareness and education to help the healthcare industry improve the quality of patient care.

"We are seeing the demand for mental health and addiction treatment skyrocket with the pandemic and other social and economic challenges, which heightens the need for nurses with the passion and skills to serve these people in their time of crisis," said Anne Ballentine, vice president of marketing at Rogers Behavioral Health and member of the Herzing University Healthcare Advisory Board. "This funding will ultimately increase the pipeline of nurses with behavioral health expertise at a time when they are so needed."

According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, more than 75% of all U.S. counties have a shortage of mental health workers while 20% of adults experience a mental health condition in any given year, a situation exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our efforts through Every Experience Counts will focus on our campuses across six states, our clinical partners across the US and many of our students which are in high need and high demand areas," said Dr. Tricia Wagner, nursing department chair at Herzing University. "We expect our cohorts to continue to have strong representation from African American and Hispanic graduate-level nursing students."

About half of all students at Herzing University are African American and Hispanic, and representation is above 40% for nursing programs. The school plans to work with community partners to provide hands-on clinical training opportunities for students, which could lead to full-time employment.

Herzing's HRSA award was announced in June and is included in $22 million provided to 56 recipients as part of the (BHWET) Program for Professionals. The new grants, which were funded through the American Rescue Plan, bring the total of BHWET awards to $66 million for 168 organizations.

The PMHNP program is one of five online graduate nursing degrees or post master's certificates offered at Herzing, together with family nurse practitioner, adult gerontology, nursing education, and nursing leadership and administration. The master's degree program in nursing at Herzing University-Madison is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education ( Herzing University is approved to offer programs in an online learning modality through association with its campus in Madison, Wisconsin.

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