UNE Receives five-year $2.5 million Federal Grant to Improve Rural Health Care in Maine

July 11th, 2016 by healthinnovation


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The University of New England (UNE) has been awarded a five-year, $2.5 million federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to partner with Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC) to transform the primary care workforce in rural and underserved Maine and improve health outcomes.

Over the course of this five-year grant, a total of 255 UNE students — 160 medical, 25 physician assistant, and 70 pharmacy students — will train together at PCHC, learning the skills needed for exemplary interprofessional, team-based care. They will also hone complementary skills needed for this century, including social determinants of health, oral health knowledge, health literacy, and shared decision making with patients. UNE faculty will work onsite with 30 PCHC clinicians, preparing them to become clinical faculty for these new proficiencies.

“As Maine’s largest educator of health professionals, UNE holds national and international reputations for teaching comprehensive, team-based care, also known as interprofessional education”, said Dora Anne Mills, M.D., UNE’s vice president for Clinical Affairs, director of the Center for Excellence in Health Innovation, and the grant’s principal investigator and chief author. “These funds will equip both today’s and tomorrow’s health care providers with team-based skills as well as other tools needed to engage effectively with patients and populations to improve health. The grant will also build a pipeline between UNE and PCHC, expanding upon UNE’s long history of providing health professionals across the state, especially to rural and underserved Maine.”

Ken Schmidt, CEO of PCHC stated, “PCHC is Maine’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center and only federally-designated teaching health center. Including three graduate residency programs, PCHC’s 750 employees provide comprehensive integrated primary health care for over 60,000 people. He continued, “This care is provided regardless of personal circumstances at 16 service sites throughout the Bangor region, in Winterport and Belfast, and in Jackman.”

“We are excited about hosting teams of UNE students from different professions,” Schmidt said, “and expanding PCHC as an interprofessional teaching health center, with 30 of our clinicians becoming clinical faculty in team-based care and teaching other skills needed for the 21st century.”

The grant will start July 1, 2016 and run through June 30, 2021.

Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC), with nearly 70,000 patients, is Maine’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center. It has nine primary care practices and 16 clinical service sites including a flagship clinic in Bangor, a Health Care for the Homeless clinic and shelter, a Clubhouse program for those recovering from mental illness, a geriatric practice serving long-term care facilities, a 340B pharmacy, and other practices ranging from Jackman to Belfast, Maine. Providing care for one-third of all Mainers served by federally-funded community health centers, PCHC is also a Teaching Health Center with Level 3 NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home designation. Located in Bangor, its service area is over 8,500 square miles, spanning Penobscot, Somerset, and Waldo counties, which include some of the poorest and most rural areas of Maine – a population of 135,000. 82% of PCHC’s service area is designated as rural or frontier. For more information, visit http://pchc.com/

The University of New England is Maine’s largest private university, an innovative educational community with two distinctive coastal Maine campuses, a vibrant new campus in Tangier, Morocco, and a robust offering of degree and certificate programs online. UNE is home to Maine’s only medical and dental schools—part of a comprehensive health education mission built on a pioneering interprofessional approach that includes pharmacy, nursing and an array of allied health professions.

FMI: Contact Dora Anne Mills, M.D., UNE’s vice president for Clinical Affairs and the Principle Investigator at dmills2@une.edu or Ian Imbert, MPH, Project Coordinator at iimbert@une.edu or 207-221-4625.

UNE Receives two-year Grant to Train Students in Community and Public Health Nursing

July 11th, 2016 by healthinnovation


The University of New England’s Department of Nursing has received a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Nurse, Education, Practice, Quality and Retention (NEPQR) program to train students in in community and public health nursing.

The grant, titled Upstream Practicums in Nursing Program, is a two-year $715,000 award and will provide 12 UNE students with a community health nursing curriculum and accompanying clinical experience in partnership with Greater Portland Health, a federally qualified health center with five sites serving vulnerable populations including immigrants and refugees, low income seniors and Portland’s homeless population. Nursing student participants will achieve essential knowledge, skills and cultural competencies to enter the workforce in community-based settings. The training will give students valuable experience and help to meet a need for skilled nurses. “This is a wonderful accomplishment for the Department of Nursing,” said Director Jen Morton, D.N.P., M.S., M.P.H., R.N. “We look forward to building an infrastructure that supports community-based nursing care as an integral component to pre-licensure nursing education and expanding the capacity of graduates entering the community and public health nursing workforce.”

UNE’s strategy in this academic-practice partnership is to provide senior-level nursing students with meaningful experiences in community-based clinical sites at Greater Portland Health’s 5 clinics and involves the following objectives: to develop and integrate a series of didactic and community-based clinical curriculum advances designed to increase the capacity of new nursing graduates to practice in community health primary care settings; to establish a community- based partnership with Greater Portland Health and its clinical sites that promotes the knowledge, skills and attitudes of community-based learning for students, while improving the health of clients; to recruit a total of 12 senior level UNE nursing students to participate in the Upstream Practicum; and to expand its Nurse Leader Institute to a statewide Consortium that includes senior level students enrolled in the Upstream Practicum.

UNE concurs that optimal community health is best achieved through health promotion and prevention rather than disease treatment.  Its program design is thoughtfully informed by the UK Royal College of Nursing’s “Upstream Nursing” model that recognizes the powerful role of nurses in creating this meaningful paradigm shift within communities.

Project Director Dr. Jennifer Morton (UNE) and other administrative key personnel (UNE/Greater Portland Health) will lead the program. The program will begin with marketing to freshman and sophomore students while creating engagement activities through a student-led, Community Health Nursing Club.  Ongoing recruitment efforts will secure student participants for Upstream Practicums in Nursing through a required “3D’s” (disparity, determinants, diversity) course and active clinical engagement at Greater Portland Health’s 5 clinics. Comprehensive process and outcome evaluations according to Rapid Cycle Quality Improvement will be conducted over the 2-year award period.

FMI: Contact Dr. Jennifer Morton, UNE Director of Nursing at jmorton@une.edu or (207) 221-4438

UNE Receives three-year Grant to Train Students to Identify and Address Substance Use Disorders

July 11th, 2016 by healthinnovation

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The University of New England has received a three-year grant totaling $870,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for a new project entitled “Collaborative SBIRT Training for Maine’s Future Health Profession Leaders.”

SBIRT stands for Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment, an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs. The project will be directed by Clay Graybeal, Ph.D., professor in the School of Social Work, and will provide training to UNE health professions students in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Pharmacy, College of Dental Medicine, Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant and Social Work. Kris Hall, MFA, will serve as Project Manager.

SBIRT is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), through the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT).  The purpose of this program, according to SAMHSA, “is to develop and implement training programs to teach students in health professions the skills necessary to provide evidence-based screening and brief intervention and refer patients who are at risk for a substance use disorder (SUD) to appropriate treatment. Additionally, the training will develop the leadership skills needed in order to champion the implementation of SBIRT throughout the United States healthcare system with the ultimate goal of helping clients avoid substance use disorders. The specialty substance use treatment system is often not appropriate, or is unavailable, to those who are at risk for SUD. Therefore, the intended outcomes of this program are to increase the adoption and practice of SBIRT throughout the health care delivery system with the ultimate goal of helping clients avoid substance use disorders. A key aspect of SBIRT is the integration and coordination of screening and treatment components into a system of services. This system links a community’s specialized treatment programs with a network of early intervention and referral activities that are conducted during health care delivery.”

With its significant number of clinical health professions, UNE is poised to become a leader in insuring that its graduates will be prepared to practice with raised awareness. This includes an understanding that substance abuse issues play a key role in the health of individuals and communities, and that intervention can occur in even the briefest encounter with a sensitive, caring, and professional health care provider.

FMI: Contact Clay Graybeal, Ph.D., Professor of Social Work (cgraybeal@une,edu or 207-221-4509) or Kris Hall, Project Manager, (chall4@une.edu or 207-221-4491)

Educating medical professionals in managing chronic pain patients through a “supervised student inter-professional pain clinic” at Mercy Pain Center

July 11th, 2016 by healthinnovation
Dr. Stephen Hull of the Mercy pain Clinic and Dr. Ling Cao of UNE's College of Osteopathic Medicine discuss chronic pain

Dr. Stephen Hull of the Mercy Pain Clinic and Dr. Ling Cao of UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine discuss chronic pain

Chronic pain is a serious health problem that affects about 100 million adults in the United States, with an estimated annual cost ranging from $560 to $635 billion. Yet current medical education regarding pain management is extremely lacking, which in part leads to insufficient pain care. The recently published National Pain Strategy recognized “Professional Education and Training” as one of the six major objectives and action plans that should be focused on in the “effort to reduce the burden of pain in the United States”. This is aligned with the mission of healthcare education at the University of New England (UNE).

UNE is Maine’s largest private university and a home to the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Maine’s only medical school, the College of Pharmacy, the College of Dental Medicine, and the College of Health Professions (which includes programs such as physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, and social work). UNE is striving to provide all professional students integrated learning experiences, as demonstrated by the establishment of the Inter-Professional Education (IPE) Collaborative. UNE also houses a significant numbers of pain researchers, highlighted by the NIH/NIGMS-funded Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for the Study of Pain and Sensory Function (since 2012). UNE COBRE faculty believe that to improve the training on chronic pain management, there needs to be more of an emphasis of learning in a clinical setting. Particularly, emerging evidence has recognized the value of inter-professional team-based practice models in managing complex conditions, such as chronic pain. Thus, in a recently conducted UNE Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) mini-grant awarded project, Dr. Ling Cao, Associate Professor at UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, took advantage of UNE’s unique mix of health profession educational programs, commitment in pain education/research, and UNE’s partnership with the Mercy Pain Center (Portland, Maine) and piloted and evaluated an education program “supervised student inter-professional pain clinic”, in the spring of 2016.

During this pilot run (February – May 2016), with the enormous help from faculty within each health profession, two inter-professional student teams were assembled that included students from the following 5 professions: osteopathic medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and social work across from three colleges at UNE, College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Pharmacy and Westbrook College of Health Professions. Throughout the training program, each team worked with one chronic pain patient under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Hull, Director of the Mercy Pain Center, Portland, ME. Click here to watch a short video by Dr. Hull outlining his experience working with chronic patients in an interprofessional format.

Each team of interprofessional students conducted the initial evaluation, generated treatment plans, and conducted follow-up examinations for its patient. Team members participated in a total of three 2-hour long group meetings, prior to meeting with their patient, after initial appointment with their patient, and after the follow-up appointment with their patient. At each of these team meetings, the team-selected student leader chaired the meeting and Dr. Hull along with faculty advisors from each participating health profession provided valuable input during the team discussion. At the end of students’ clinic participation, both teams debriefed their experience during their final team meetings and presented their experience to the UNE community on May 6, 2016.

At the final debriefing meeting with all participating students, Dr. Hull and available faculty advisors from each profession, and all participating students spoke highly about the training program and emphasized the values of “real” patient contact, built-in follow-up examination with the patient, and meaningful team interactions. They also expressed the wish to see more patients in the future to get a better sense about the demographics of chronic pain patients. Preliminary results from student surveys a trend of improvement in 1) students’ knowledge in the neurophysiology of pain (measured by the “revised neurophysiology pain questionnaire”), 2) interprofessional education perceptions scale (IEPS) that measures participants’ “professional competence & autonomy”, “perceived need for cooperation” and “actual cooperation”, and 3) the modified team skill scale (TSS) that assesses students’ team skills. The results from patient surveys showed that both participating patients enjoyed their experience with respective student teams, believed they had learned a great deal about chronic pain during this experience, and loved the opportunity of contributing to medical education. Both participating faculty advisors and Dr. Hull expressed their willingness to contribute to this training program again in the near future.


Dr. Cao would like to sincerely thank the funding support from the SoTL award and believes that the pilot study provided valuable information on the feasibility and effectiveness of this approach. As a result, Dr. Cao and her team would like to expand this program by adding more inter-professional teams and conducting more comprehensive outcome analyses. The team would like to improve the diversity of this program by establishing similar training programs with multiple pain clinics and pain specialists in the region. The ultimate goal is to incorporate this innovative educational program to the current curricula within the various health educational programs as well as in UNE’s IPE program.


UNE students present their experiences working together at the Mercy Pain Clinic

UNE students present on their experiences working together at the Mercy Pain Clinic. L-R: Anna-Marie Brown (OT), Kelly Dell’Aquila (SW), Kelcey Ladner (SW), Jenny (Chen Chun) Chiang (COM), Ethan M. Duane (COM), Richard Zheng (COM), Katie Rogers (COP), Nichole Bell (OT), Samantha Beckwith (Nursing), Sophia Chan (COM), Ling Cao (COM faculty) On screen left to right: Peter-John Trapp (COP), Jacklyn Waterfield (OT), Jennifer Madore (SW)


FMI: Please contact Dr. Ling Cao, lcao@une.edu, 207 602-2213