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Penn Nursing Focuses on Achieving Equitable Primary Care

Data shows that unless the pattern of furnishing primary health care, particularly to underserved groups in both urban and rural areas, is drastically improved, these groups will suffer in inequitable and unnecessary ways. It is clear that the primary care workforce must be expanded and diversified.

A solution is offered in a commentary published in the journal NAM Perspectives about equitable primary care. Two leading nurse researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) provide insight into a unique program designed to promote community-engaged primary care nurse practitioner education. The commentary, “Advancing Primary Care with Underserved Communities: A Case Study of the Leonard A. Lauder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Program,” is now available online.

“Built upon a strong university and school mission and values that align with health equity, the Leonard A. Lauder program augments nurse practitioner education at Penn with focused integration of the social determinants of health at the point of care and development of intersectoral leadership,” explains Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing and co-author of the commentary.

Leonard A. Lauder fellows participate in experiential and collaborative learning in and with communities where at least half of their clinical education occurs. The program is building a robust alumni network to create lifelong support to Leonard A. Lauder fellows to enhance and support community-based practice and leadership that will advance the health and well-being of communities.

“The $125 million investment by Leonard A. Lauder is a powerful catalyst for change, one that could have a significant multiplier effect if met with public and private investment in primary care workforce development,” says Julie Sochalski, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for Academic Programs at Penn Nursing and co-author of the commentary.

The program provides a critically important case study for achieving equitable primary care. “The commitment to building a workforce ready to meet the challenges of improving health outcomes in rural and underserved communities, and partnering with those communities in that quest, signals to the broader stakeholder community sharing these same goals—the time is now,” adds Villarruel.