Can Doctors of Nursing Practice improve the health of those living in Berks County?
The 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment of Berks County indicated “the overall health status of Berks County’s population compares favorably to Pennsylvanians in general and Healthy People 2020 goals.”
The report went on to say that nonetheless, “a number of disparities do exist among the subareas and subpopulations studied.“ The highest of which is Reading, the largest city in Berks County.
Some of these health disparities highlight the need for services including:
- Broadened mental-health services, including more access to child and adolescent psychiatrists
- More bilingual, culturally appropriate services, particularly in specialists’ offices
- More early prenatal care, particularly for black and Latina women
- Increased aid to help people with health risks better understand eligibility requirements and application processes for public assistance
- Strategies to address adolescent pregnancy, particularly in Reading
These disparities, as well as the Assessment’s findings as a whole, indicate a deep need for an expansion of essential health care services and professionals in Berks County and the Reading area.
The Public Health Management Corporation made the recommendation within the assessment to “Increase the capacity of existing providers and add new providers to improve access to essential health care services for at-risk populations”, specifically in primary care, specialty care, mental health services and early prenatal care.
Hence one of the foundational causes for Alvernia University’s new Doctor of Nursing Practice program is to supply a growing population of DNP professionals to areas in need.
Alvernia’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program, which is largely focused on training DNPs for primary care of families, prepares students with the expertise to fulfill the disparities listed above as well as many others.
With several courses focused on women’s and pediatric health issues and global and local health population, DNP students gain a well-rounded view of the populations with which they may be working and how to best serve them.
In addition, they will take classes like NUR 703: Using Informatics for Quality Improvement, where they will learn how to capture data and create their own assessments, as well as analyze others, in order to improve quality of patient care and health care management.