Connections April 2016 - Chota

Chota, UT partnership improves health care

(from the Advocate & Democrat)

Chota Community Health Services has partnered with the University of Tennessee School of Nursing to take advantage of a federal HRSA grant that pays for the students to come to the clinic and learn on the job.

Katie Morgan, a nurse practitioner and clinical instructor, and Kathy Brown, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health, both at UT, are teaching and assisting the students as they spend their days in Madisonville.

“Chota wanted to be a nurse training partner with the school,” Morgan said, “and we thought it would be a great opportunity to improve education and preparation for the jobs these students want.”

All those who take the course are graduate students and most will be entering “the real world” once it’s over. The program is also being run at Community Health of East Tennessee through the same $2.1 million grant.

“The grant emphasized rural care,” Morgan said, “so we were seeking a place that had more than one type of care. Chota has been working with rural patients for nearly 20 years and we thought it would be a great place for the students to train.”

"Health care has changed a lot in the past few years,” Brown said. “We wanted to create a winning partnership and that is what we have done.”

The students, who come from everywhere, learn how to rely on other professionals and how to deal with patients. In most cases, two students will go into a room with a patient and then report back to others and they will work together, under the supervision of a nurse practitioner or a physician, to come up with a course of treatment.

“There are a lot of checks and balances,” Brown said. “The patient is kept up with what’s going on and a physician has to approve all plans.”

“There is no charge for the students,” Morgan said, “and the patient is asked beforehand if they’d be OK with them coming in.”

The students come from all over East Tennessee at the moment and Jennifer Russomanno from Jefferson City is going into the public health aspect of the field.

“Most people would associate the job with public health departments,” she said. “I’ll look at all aspects of what is affecting the patient’s health and what struggles they are facing.”

Julia Caudill is a nurse practitioner student out of Knoxville and she is learning how to talk to nurses, doctors and pharmacists.

“The medical field,” she said, “is losing a lot of primary care physicians because doctors are going into specialized fields. Nurse practitioners can fill the gaps and help families take care of their health on a regular basis.”

Katie Marten grew up in a military family and has lived everywhere from Germany to Hawaii but now calls Knoxville home and would like to stay in the area when she is finished with school.

“Patients in a small, rural area,” she said, “have fewer choices for healthcare, but they can come here and get all their questions answered. We get a lot of questions about food, which is very important in health, and we’re learning how to answer such questions.”

Corey Grimshaw is the closest to a hometown boy taking the course, hailing from just up the road in Greenback.

Grimshaw, who is studying to become a pharmacist, said, “Coming here is like a trip back home. I know how areas like this are and how easy it is to talk to people.”

Grimshaw is nearly complete with his school work and has accepted a job with a Walgreens in Nashville.

“I’d like to one day start a family pharmacy with my sister who also works in the field,” he said. “I’d like it to be in Greenback, come full circle, but we’ll see what happens.”