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The University of St. Francis (USF) announced that it has been awarded a grant through the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) program. The grant, which will provide $1,452,947 in funding, will bring together USF and the Will County Community Health Center (WCCHC) to offer high-quality clinical experiences for USF students in the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) programs. The grant will also place USF graduates at WCCHC or in another rural or undeserved community within Illinois and expand the availability of primary care and mental health services for residents of Will County in northeastern Illinois and, through the introduction of telehealth services, residents in rural Illinois.

“Thanks to this funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the University of St. Francis and the Will County Community Health Center will partner to expand the availability of primary care and mental health services for residents of Will County while enhancing educational opportunities for our students,” said USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D. “We are the Joliet region’s university, and this is a prime example of how government entities and higher education institutions can collaborate to benefit the citizens of the communities they serve.”

The university’s plans for the grant, whose principal investigator was Susan Thompson, DNP, ACNS-BC,
Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean of Graduate Nursing for USF’s Leach College of Nursing, include six main objectives:

  • establish an innovative academic-clinical partnership with WCCHC;
  • organize and implement longitudinal immersive clinical training experiences and traineeships for Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Psychiatric Health Nurse Practitioner students;
  • recruit, train, develop, support, and evaluate preceptors as program partners to enhance community-based clinical nursing education;
  • integrate the HRSA Health Resource Connector into the USF curriculum to connect graduates with employment opportunities in rural and underserved areas;
  • increase awareness of telehealth programs and facilitate integration of telehealth into FNP and PMHNP curricula and WCCHC services, and;
  • establish mechanisms to track and network USF NP graduates after graduation to verify compliance with the program mandates and support continued success in providing care to underserved areas.

Will County Community Health Center Chief Executive Officer Mary Maragos looks forward to the positive impact the grant and partnership with USF will provide.

“We are thrilled to be included in this new program,” Maragos said. “It will greatly benefit our patients and increase access to care throughout our community.

This is the third federal grant USF has received in the past twelve months. The two other grants include the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Grant worth close to $1 million and the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) Program Grant worth nearly $650,000. Both grants were through the National Science Foundation. Collectively, USF’s three most recent federal grants will provide approximately $3.15 million in funding for the university.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 49,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.