Rochester, Minn. – Winona State University – Rochester (WSU-R) Graduate Programs in Nursing have been awarded a $232,382 Health Professional Clinical Training Expansion Grant from the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (ORHPC). This grant will expand clinical capacity for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) in Southern MN to meet primary and psychiatric mental healthcare needs of underserved populations.

Dr. William McBreen, RN, Dean for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at WSU welcomes the expansion for clinical capacity and the positive impacts APRNs will have in the region. “It is generally accepted that the best strategy for improved placement of nurse practitioner graduates in rural and underserved areas is to educate nurses from these areas. We also know that one of the primary barriers to nurse practitioner education is availability of clinical sites,” said McBreen.

This grant will enable WSU-R to expand its post-graduate certificate (PMHNP) program, increase placement of APRN students in rural and underserved areas, and provide preceptor training for up to 40 preceptors annually. Cultural competence content regarding care of rural and underserved clients will be incorporated into both preceptor training and core advanced health promotion course in which all graduate nursing students enroll.

Dr. Sonja J. Meiers, RN, Director of Graduate Nursing Programs at WSU-R, sees this grant as both an opportunity for expanding community partnerships in Minnesota and the surrounding region as well as the ability to equip more APRNs with the tools they require to meet community mental health needs. “This award funding will significantly enhance our ability to support our clinical partners in their mission of educating advanced practice providers. We appreciate that we have been entrusted to do this work on behalf of Minnesota communities, particularly in our rural settings. We look forward to what we will learn along with our clinical partners,” said Meiers.

Clinical partners include Olmsted Medical Center, Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center, Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea, Winona Health, and Zumbro Valley Mental Health. Each partnering organization will identify strategies that remove barriers to APRN clinical expansion. These strategies will be supported by grant funds and will provide a framework for expansion of clinical training sites throughout Minnesota. Mieca Valen, DNP, APRN, CNP, Coordinator of the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at WSU-R, is the Principal Investigator for the grant. Dr. Sonja Meiers, and Dawn Van Ruler, PMNHP, APRN, MS, Coordinator of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program PMHNP at WSU will also support the grant.

“This funding is a rare opportunity to focus our attention on these critical aspects of nurse practitioner preparation and to work with our clinical affiliates to remove barriers to admission and the clinical education of nurses from rural Minnesota,” McBreen said.

For more information about the ORHPC grant or WSU-R Graduate Programs in Nursing, please contact: Dr. Mieca Valen, 507-285-7473,