Integrating Population Health into Primary Care APRN Practice to Improve the Health of the Public

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 11:00 AM

Pamela F. Levin, PhD, RN, APHN-BC
Community, Systems, and Mental Health Nursing Dept, Rush University College of Nursing, Chicago, IL, USA
Susan Swider, RN, PhD, APHN-BC, FAAN
College of Nursing, Rush University, Chicago, IL, USA

Nationally, numerous agencies now call for the integration of primary care and population health, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute of Medicine. This integration is critical to forward the nation’s health agenda, build healthier communities, and reduce health care costs. The emphasis on enhancing the numbers of primary care APRNs is necessary to increase access to care, but unless primary care APRNs gain population health knowledge and competencies, they will not be instrumental in developing and implementing the necessary population-focused strategies to meet the Healthy People 2020 goals. Recognizing the challenge, the American Association of College of Nurses (AACN) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched an initiative to enhance the integration of population and public health content into nursing curricula, as well as to advance the public health nursing workforce.  However, current primary care APRN programs are challenged to incorporate the necessary population health content to affect population outcomes into DNP curricula and remain competitive in program length.

This session describes the innovative efforts of faculty at one university in designing a post master’s DNP curriculum that expands the role of the primary care APRN by incorporating population health content towards developing the necessary competencies to meet the health needs of populations and communities across diverse settings.  Primary Care APRNs in the post-master’s Leadership to Enhance Population Health Outcomes program focus on developing population-based knowledge and skills to enhance clinical health outcomes for patient aggregates and populations. This knowledge and skill set can be used across specialty areas to assess the health and illness needs of clinical populations and develop, implement and evaluate population-focused interventions to address these needs. The program is on-line, with three required on campus visits. Students apply course content through a structured clinical experience in their work site or community setting, gaining valuable skills in developing, implementing and evaluating a program for a vulnerable population.  

Building on the DNP core courses in leadership and healthcare economics, the curriculum includes courses in policy, finance, advanced nursing roles in population health, population health assessment, and population intervention planning, implementation, and evaluation. Students gain skills in assessing a population for the most prevalent risks and health needs, develop evidence-based interventions or programs to address unmet needs, and engage in sustainable health promotion and disease intervention planning for vulnerable groups.  DNP project examples and student and faculty feedback on the project development process to date will be shared along with lessons learned. Curricula suggestions and recommendations are provided for other programs looking to integrate population health content into DNP curricula, to help assure primary care APRNs are prepared to effect change in the nation’s health.