Before an audience of congressional staffers and health professionals, School of Nursing student Jorge Roman got to tell his story Tuesday night on Capitol Hill.
Roman, who is in the second degree and joint bachelor’s/master’s degree programs in the Nursing School, spoke at a congressional briefing about two provisions — Title VII and Title VIII — of the Public Health Service Act that fund educational programs in health care-related fields.
The Title VII Health Profession Programs target training for medical and dental health professionals, while Title VIII funds nursing workforce-development programs.
Sixty people attended the briefing — 20 of whom were congressional staffers, according to Suzanne Begeny, director of Government Affairs for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Each year, Begeny said, national groups like the AACN advocate for increased government funding for these programs, with significant success thus far. Over the past three years, Title VIII annual funding has increased from $150 million to $244 million.
In January, the AACN surveyed over 1,400 undergraduate and graduate nursing students about their professional goals and how these goals may have been affected by Title VIII grants.
Roman, who is specializing in the Family Health Nurse Practitioner program, was selected from the pool of applicants to be this year’s speaker because of his “personal story” and “ambition,” particularly “how he plans to help the profession,” Begeny said. She also noted that Roman’s goals align with the Title VII and VIII focus on increasing care for underserved populations.
“My whole reason for going into nursing is the need,” Roman said. “I see a huge need in providing primary care to poor and underserved people.”
During the briefing, Roman described his special interest in bringing preventative and primary care services to Latino communities, in part because of his own “bilingual, bicultural” background, he said.
Throughout his speech, Roman said he tried to emphasize that his career path would not be possible were it not for Title VIII funding. Roman’s tuition is partially covered by the Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship program, a grant he was able to apply for under Title VIII. To qualify, he had to meet certain academic standards and demonstrate a focus on working with underserved communities.
At the briefing, speeches were also given by a Doctor of Pharmacy student from Howard University and the Chairperson of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science at the University of Florida, both of whom focused on programs at their institutions that have benefited from Title VII funding, Roman said.
Ann O’Sullivan, director of the Family Health Nurse Practitioner program, believes that FHNP graduates are well suited to meet the goals of the Title VIII initiatives.
“Our graduates are able to provide care throughout the lifespan, from birth through the end of life,” she wrote in an e-mail with FHNP colleagues Eileen Campbell and June Treston. “This makes them an ideal candidate to provide care to those in underserved and less populated areas where they may be the only provider for quite some distance.”
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