Kent State Nursing Faculty Researcher Awarded $2 Million HRSA Grant to Address Maternal Mental Health Workforce Development

James Tudhope, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, NPD-BC, assistant professor and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner concentration coordinator at Kent State University College of Nursing, was recently awarded a four-year, $2 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) as part of the Advanced Nursing Education Nurse Practitioner Residency Fellowship Program. Tudhope’s research team includes Kent State nursing faculty members Andrea Warner Stidham, Ph.D., MSN, RN, assistant professor and Andrea L. Nelson, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, lecturer, along with Raman Krimpuri, M.D., vice-president and medical director at Portage Path Behavioral Health and Vikil Girdhar, M.D., family medicine physician at AxessPointe Community Health Center.

Grant funds will be used to strengthen ongoing academic-clinical partnerships between Kent State University and Portage Path Behavioral Health. Additionally, funding will support 16 fellows over the course of four years, which will help to expand and enhance the current fellowship program at Portage Path Behavioral Health which began in 2018 and was the first psychiatric specialty program in the nation to be accredited with distinction by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The Advanced Nursing Education Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship (ANE-NPRF) Program is designed to build an individual learning plan around each fellow to identify their level of competency and skill. Intentional mentoring and precepting, including didactics and field experiences, allow fellows to move from proficient to expert levels of care and better equip them to work in a practice environment that serves vulnerable, underserved populations in a community mental health and integrative care environment.

“This grant will allow us to build on our previous success and continue in the naturally evolving direction of our work which has become a focus on maternal mental health issues,” said Tudhope. “We're excited to focus on and intentionally work with this important population in Ohio.”

Tudhope, whose research primarily focuses on the development and design of advanced practice registered nurse fellowship programs that help ensure a successful transition into practice for new nurse practitioners, explained that maternal mental health issues have been an ongoing interest for many current and past fellows with whom he has worked. Funding through the HRSA grant will allow his team to not only focus on integrative care, but also maternal health.

“One of the things we find ourselves doing more is providing maternal mental health services not only to existing clients, but also new clients and community members who are seeking out those services. Maternal mental health care is defined as before, during and immediately after pregnancy through as long as that specific support is needed. It's an area that we've struggled with as a nation and even in Ohio,” said Tudhope. “It is a vital time for a family's life, particularly for a mother. Perinatal depression is described as the most common, unrecognized complication in the perinatal period. Oftentimes it isn't assessed or diagnosed and may go untreated, which can have a big impact on pregnancy-related deaths.”

Recognizing that most psychiatrists and many behavioral health clinicians receive little formal education in maternal mental health care, Tudhope is excited to begin closing the gap stemming from lack of knowledge, skill and abilities.

“This research is very specific to the workforce development space as it will help us understand how to better create quality training programs for new nurse practitioners in community-based settings that improve access to quality care,” said Tudhope. “Over the next four years, we will bring on four new fellows each fall into a 12-month program where they will transition from recent graduate and step into the field of nursing practice. We will build their confidence and competency. Our newest class of fellows began working with the research team in September.”

Individuals interested in participating in the fellowship program need to be recent graduates from a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program and have an interest in and commitment to working with those experiencing complex health needs within the community mental health environment. The application cycle runs annually from January through April. Applicants should contact Tudhope at for additional information regarding the application process.

“I'm excited about making maternal mental health care something that is not going to just be an add-on or a specialty but something that's more integrated into regular practice and standard education,” said Tudhope. “I'm eager to bring this into our practice environment and to work with and train our fellows in this area. I also look forward to applying the lessons learned in the classroom with our master's and DNP program students.”

Tudhope shared that this research will have far-reaching benefits that extend into the northeastern Ohio community and beyond. 

“All of us either currently have or know somebody who has had mental health needs, and it can be very difficult to get access to care. Oftentimes, there is a long wait to meet with a healthcare provider trained in these practices,” said Tudhope. “Our work is helping to build the local workforce by preparing new nurse practitioners to work specifically in community mental health and integrative care settings by enhancing their ability to provide maternal mental health care. Our communities, family members and loved ones are certainly going to benefit.”

POSTED: Wednesday, October 18, 2023 09:40 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 24, 2023 12:39 PM
Mariah Gibbons