I was quite excited to have the opportunity to see a fellow nurse with high ranking in the U.S. health administration speak last month about the importance of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the role it plays in the health of our nation.

Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, FAAN, and HRSA member, presented information on several HRSA programs that could be beneficial to your practice at the National Association of Nurse Practitioners 2013 Meeting in Orlando.

HRSA’s goal is to improve access to care for medically, economically and geographically vulnerable pediatric populations through several organizations, including the Community Health Centers Program, the National Health Service Core, the Ryan White HIV Program, the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the Maternal Child Health Bureau.

Wakefield provided an overview of several innovative projects these organization are undertaking:

  • The Text4Baby program, cosponsored by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and Johnson & Johnson, is a free service available to women who sign up. It consists of text messages in English and Spanish that contain health education information and is sent during the patient’s pregnancy and the baby’s first year of life
  • The Emergency Medical Response System aims to ensure pediatric services are integrated into emergency medical response systems and EDs to prevent delays in care that occur when child-specific equipment and/or personnel are not available.
  • The Affordable Care Act continues to expand and provide new career opportunities for thousands of nurse practitioners through several programs. The Community Health Centers Program provides funding for 470 new school-based health centers, the National Health Service Core offers funding for NP education, and Nurse Core supports nursing education for those working in medically underserved hospital facilities.
  • A home visitation program aims to make NPs more accessible to high-risk pregnant women and children. Similar to the Nurse-Family Partnership, this program has the potential to improve pregnancy outcomes and child health and development, as well as to increase economic self-sufficiency and school readiness and decrease child abuse and juvenile crime. 

What could be a better use of tax dollars than a healthy start for children and families and therefore our nation?

Julee B. Waldrop, DNP, FNP, PNP, is the Director of the MSN-DNP Program and an associate professor at the University of Central Florida. She provides health care to children at a local community health center.