JU helping to address primary care shortage through nurse practitioners

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville University is working to help address the primary care shortage we’re facing throughout the state of Florida.

Action News Jax looked into a new scholarship program that’s hoping to expand the access to healthcare through nurse practitioners.

Dr. Laurie Buschini is a nurse practitioner at JU’s new student health center.

Over the summer, she joined a new online pilot program so she could get the credits she needed to treat people without an attending doctor to supervise her.

“What this program allows us to do is to offer these educational requirements for independent practice free of charge, which is amazing because then it allows more folks to come in and seize this opportunity,” Dr. Laurie Buschini said.

The program is a partnership between the University and Availity, a local healthcare provider that is donating $100,000 worth of scholarships to fund the program.

It’s open to all nurse practitioners in the state of Florida.

The university told Action News Jax the goal of the program is to increase healthcare access to millions of Floridians where there’s an aging population already in need of more doctors.

“This is a state well-known for retirees, and Florida wants to be known as a place for medical tourism, so that’s just going to increase the demand for more primary care providers on top of the fact that we have a certain generation of providers that are going to be leaving their practices,” Dr. Christine Sapienza, the Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs said.

Jacksonville University told us that Florida ranks last in the nation when it comes to access to primary care physicians.

To try to address that issue, Florida has a new law allowing nurse practitioners to practice independently after completing a series of courses.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the law back in March. Now nurse practitioners can fill the gap in the shortage of primary care physicians throughout the state.

“You know it’s a fabulous feeling to know that you can make a difference, and it’s really neat to work in this population in particular because you have the opportunity to educate these students so that going forward, they can live better lives,” Dr. Buschini said.

The partnership between JU and Availity will help up to 1,000 nurse practitioners continue their education and one day even open their own practice.

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