From everyday care to COVID-19:
New residency program prepares new nurse practitioners

When the coronavirus pandemic hit America, the nation’s health care system faced challenges like never before. Providers and clinicians stepped up by working extra shifts, traveling cross country to assist in the most-affected areas and tapping into the strengths of all members of the health care team.

“The COVID-19 crisis reinforced the value our advanced practice team by staffing telehealth screening, manning employee health testing and just- in-time training to prepare all of our staff for next level care,” says Christi Delemos, associate director of Advanced Practice for UC Davis Medical Center. “The ability to pivot our advanced practice providers will help us fill our ICU, Emergency Department and ward care needs in the event of a crisis.”

A 2019 report from the California Future Health Workforce Commission projected a shortfall of more than 4,100 primary care clinicians. Commissioners called on maximizing the role of nurse practitioners (N.P.s) as part of the care team to help fill gaps in primary care, helping to increase the number of nurse practitioners to 44,000 by 2028.

In 2020, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis launched a new advanced practice residency program for nurse practitioners to equip new primary care N.P.s to serve in under-resourced areas through education and clinical rotations. The program launched in July with 11 residents.

“N.P. residency programs provide new graduate nurse practitioners the opportunity to be involved in a mentored transition to practice experience that reinforces and enhances their critical thinking and decision-making skills,” explains Deb Bakerjian, clinical professor and program director. “This is essential in the rapid-paced changes in today’s world. The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example: a new infectious disease requiring new ways of caring for patients and the need to revise procedures to this new health threat.”

The advanced Primary care Residency in Addiction, Chronic care, Telehealth, Improvement science, Collab- oration and Equity (NP-PRACTICE) initiative is funded by a $3.5 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). The first cohort of 11 residents began in July. They are the first of 30 residents over the next three years to rotate through UC Davis Health-affiliated centers, as well as community clinics in underserved areas throughout Northern California.

“Partnering with a nurse practitioner residency program provides the ideal blend of continued clinical education and real-life practical application needed to develop the core skills needed for a successful career in health care,” explains Greg Stone, CEO of Peach Tree Health.

During the 12-month residency, nurse practitioners spend six months providing clinical services in a primary care setting, then six months rotating through various specialties, as well as telehealth, pain management and wound care.

“I hope to gain more exposure to a variety of patient populations and experiences to build my confidence as a clinician,” says Sara Delao, a new resident of the program and School of Nursing alumna. “With the pandemic, I‘ve seen increased use and effectiveness of telehealth. I am so excited to be a part of this residency that emphasizes the advancement of this delivery system.”