College of Nursing to expand BSN training through team- and community-based primary care with $2.6 million HRSA Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention grant

Ramona Benkert and Belinda Aberle receive $2.6M HRSA grantIn Detroit and across the nation, the need for nurses who practice on community-based primary care and public health teams is growing. As health care moves from hospital settings to the community, these teams will need RNs working to the full scope of their license, particularly in an urban setting.

Wayne State Associate Dean for Academic and Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor Dr. Ramona Benkert and colleague Belinda Aberle were recently awarded a $2.6 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention (NEPQR) grant to help do just that. Benkert's proposal, "Primary Care-Community Health Immersion Program in Detroit (PC-Chip in the D)," received four years of funding to address these training gaps. The proposal includes a sustainability plan that will ensure the continuation of activities beyond federal funding.

Wayne State's College of Nursing will work collaboratively with three of its longstanding community/practice partners, including two federally qualified health centers, Detroit Community Health Connection, and Covenant Community Health Center, and the Oakland County Health Division. These partners are located in Detroit as well as Pontiac. Together, they will create a replicable primary care nursing workforce training program for senior-level BSN students and current RNs. 

"Wayne State College of Nursing is known for its commitment to community health," said Dean Laurie M. Lauzon Clabo. She continued, "This prestigious grant will further our impact on urban health and enhance student learning with an eye toward serving diverse populations and promoting community and urban health." In fact, students will work side by side with RNs in these community settings in an immersion clinical experience for 150 hours.

Benkert explained, "The clinical immersion experiences in a primary care or public health environment will enhance our BSN curriculum as well as our faculty's knowledge of these concepts." Ultimately, this could lead to a distinct hiring advantage for WSU nursing graduates. Benkert said, "It will expand nursing role options post-graduation as it will enhance student knowledge of case management roles, quality management and other primary care concepts."

Equally important, the three community partners will have an opportunity to hire graduates with the exact skills necessary to work in a community setting.

This innovative, collaborative, community-based care model will provide students with an exceptional training experience; however, patients who may otherwise go untreated will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this high-quality, no-cost care.


The Wayne State University College of Nursing is committed to providing a world-class educational experience. Our faculty aid in the development of new nursing knowledge through the conduct of research that focuses on urban health, symptom science and health promotion.

Wayne State is a nationally recognized urban center of excellence in research. We are proud to be one of only 10 U.S. public universities in major cities holding the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's designation as an institution with "very high research activity," as well as the foundation's most comprehensive classification for community engagement. WSU is among the nation's top public universities for total research expenditures ($245.8 million) according to the National Science Foundation.

Health Resources & Services Administration: The purpose of this four-year Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention (NEPQR) - Registered Nurses in Primary Care (RNPC) Training Program is to recruit and train nursing students and current registered nurses (RNs) to practice to the full scope of their license in community-based primary care teams to increase access to care, with an emphasis on chronic disease prevention and control, including mental health and substance use conditions.  The program aims to achieve a sustainable primary care nursing workforce equipped with the competencies necessary to address pressing national public health issues, even the distribution of the nursing workforce, improve access to care and improve population health outcomes by strengthening the capacity for basic nurse education and practice and addressing national nursing needs under three priority areas: education, practice and retention, as authorized by PHS Act sections 831(a)-(c) and 831A(a)-(c).


Contact info

Julie O'Connor

Director, Research Communications
Phone: 313-577-8845