The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded the Maternity Care (MatCare) Nursing Workforce Expansion Grant to Frontier Nursing University (FNU). The current grant period will end on September 29, 2027. FNU will receive $4 million – $1 million per year – to fund the grant project.
Via the grant, FNU intends to increase the number and diversity of the nurse-midwifery workforce with a focus on increasing the Hispanic population of nurse-midwives. FNU plans to graduate at least 300 nurse-midwives each year. FNU anticipates that 30% will report as a person of color, and 10% will report as Hispanic. The grant funds will help broaden the scope and reach of FNU’s marketing campaigns and increase the university’s student support programs. Student support will include a mentoring program, retention strategies, and engagement with the Hispanic nursing community, including preceptors and Hispanic-serving nursing schools.
“We are honored and thrilled to receive the Maternity Care Nursing Workforce Expansion Grant,” said FNU President Dr. Susan Stone, DNSc, CNM, FACNM, FAAN. “This grant offers FNU the opportunity to focus on an area of particular need in our country. According to 2022 data from the CDC, more than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. from 2017-2019 were preventable by simply providing better care. Data also overwhelmingly demonstrate that culturally congruent care improves patient outcomes by emphasizing interactions between patients and practitioners based on empathy and respect. That is the type of care that nurse-midwives are trained to provide. It is vital that we increase the number and diversity of the nurse-midwifery workforce to combat the tragically high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity in our country.”
FNU has maintained a strong focus on increasing diversity enrollment and retention through a number of initiatives, some of which were funded in part by HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity grants awarded in 2017 and 2021. FNU’s many recent DEI initiatives include the implementation of a holistic admissions process, the expansion of its Office of DEI staff, diversity training for all members of the FNU community, mentoring programs, an annual Diversity Impact Conference, the formation of special Student Interest Groups, and the establishment of a DEI Faculty Fellows program. Since FNU committed to DEI as a priority, enrollment of students of color has increased from 9% in 2010 to 30% in 2023. Currently, 5% of FNU’s midwifery student population identifies as Hispanic. Nationally, only 5% of certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives identify as Hispanic.
The Hispanic population typically has lower maternal mortality than the Black and American Indian/Alaska Native populations. However, according to a March 2023 report from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Hispanic population’s maternal mortality rate has risen dramatically in the last four years, climbing from 11.8 per 100,000 in 2018 to 28 per 100,000 in 2021.
“The Hispanic population in the United States is 19% percent and growing,” said Dr. Eileen Thrower, Ph.D., APRN, CNM, CNE, FACNM, Chair for the Department of Midwifery & Women’s Health at Frontier Nursing University. Dr. Thrower will serve as the director for the MatCare project. “With the current rise in maternal mortality rates, it is imperative that we address this growing need through focused and data-driven initiatives to increase the Hispanic population of nurse-midwives.”
As part of the MatCare grant, FNU will provide 100 scholarships ($5,000 each) as well as 100 stipends ($2000 each) for nurse-midwifery students annually. Scholarships and stipends are managed through the university’s Scholarship Committee and the Financial Aid Department.
FNU’s MatCare project goals are to:
- Increase the number of nurse-midwives from underrepresented populations, focusing on the Hispanic population.
- Increase the retention rate of nurse-midwives from 81% to 85%, focusing on Hispanic Nurses.
- Enhance maternal mental health training to better address maternal mental health, maternal mortality, and morbidity risk factors.
- Strengthen community-based training partnerships.