Kent State College of Nursing Receives $100,000 Grant to Address Shortage of Mental Health Professionals in Northeast Ohio

Kent State University College of Nursing has received a grant totaling $100,000 from the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, a private grant-making foundation interested in supporting mental health programs in northeast Ohio. Barbara Drew, Ph.D., RN, PMHCNS-BC, associate professor, and Wendy Umberger, Ph.D., RN, PMHCNS-BC, associate dean for graduate programs, received a $70,000 grant for their two-year joint project called “Expanding the Base of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing in Northeast Ohio.” This grant will enable the College to offer 28 full-time and 16 part-time traineeships to highly qualified students beginning in the fall 2017 semester.  

Additionally, Drew and Umberger, along with Lisa Echeverry, DNP, RN, AGNP-BC, director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, received $30,000 from The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation for a DNP Scholar Award. Over two years, this award will provide $15,000 for tuition and $15,000 in supplemental income to an exceptional psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner while he or she earns a DNP degree at Kent State. This student will work collaboratively with The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation and partnering agencies to implement an innovative doctoral project that has practical application to create transformative change and to improve mental health care, access to mental health services and patient and family outcomes.

“The College of Nursing at Kent State University is committed to helping increase the number of mental health providers in northeast Ohio, particularly those who are trained to provide both therapy and prescribe medication,” said Drew. “We are excited and appreciative to once again receive support from The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation.”

All traineeship recipients will be required to perform service hours and participate in campus and community mental health activities. In addition, once traineeship recipients have two years of full-time experience as psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, they will be asked to become preceptors for future Kent State nursing students graduating from the program. This will help ensure a sufficient number of preceptors are available to mentor future students since half of the U.S. nurse workforce is over 50 and beginning to retire, according to the 2015 National Council of State Boards of Nursing National Nursing Workforce Study.

“Persons experiencing psychiatric illness in public health systems frequently present with problems beyond the competence of baccalaureate-prepared case managers and other non-medical mental health professionals,” said Drew. “These challenges are exacerbated by a significant workforce shortage, particularly among mental health professionals credentialed to provide behavioral health treatment to children and who prescribe psychotropic medication.”

According to The American Association of Colleges of Nursing website, “nursing schools across the country are struggling to expand capacity to meet the rising demand for care given the national move toward healthcare reform.” However, Drew and Umberger have experienced great success with the traineeship program, which was first offered to graduate psychiatric mental health nursing students in 2009. In fact, during the 2014-2015 academic school year, Drew and Umberger far exceeded their objective to recruit and retain 10-20 new students each program year as sixty-eight students were admitted during the funding period. Of those, 31 received support for tuition and other educational expenses. To date, thirteen recipients have graduated and are providing mental health services or are preparing to take their certification exam.   

“Access to mental health services continues to be a critical challenge for people with mental illness in

Northeast Ohio due, in part, to a shortage of mental health professionals with a broad skill mix that includes psychotherapy and prescriptive management,” said Umberger. “There is a strong need and demand for graduate-prepared advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to assume leadership positions across all levels of healthcare and particularly in mental health.”

Applications for the traineeships and DNP Scholar Award will be accepted through June 1, 2017. For more information about the traineeships, please contact Dr. Barbara Drew,, and for more information about the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, please contact Dr. Lisa Echeverry,, or visit

To learn more about the DNP Scholar Award, please visit Applications will be accepted through March 1, 2017.


About Kent State University’s College of Nursing

In existence for nearly 50 years, the College of Nursing at Kent State University is one of the largest and most comprehensive nursing programs in the nation with more than 12,000 alumni worldwide. As part of Kent State’s eight-campus system, the college provides more than 2,000 nursing students courses of study at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels. To learn more about nursing programs at Kent State, please visit

POSTED: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 10:08am
UPDATED: Friday, February 1, 2019 - 11:15am
Mariah Gibbons