Helping Those Who Help New Moms
Community healthcare providers in Northeast Ohio are encountering an increase in patients seeking maternal mental health services. Defined as before, during and immediately after pregnancy continuing as long as that specific support is needed, maternal mental healthcare is an area many psychiatrists and behavioral health clinicians received little formal education, resulting in a lack of knowledge, skill and ability to care for this population.
“This 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,” said James Tudhope, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, NPD-BC, assistant professor and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner concentration coordinator at Kent State University’s College of Nursing. “Oftentimes, it isn’t assessed or diagnosed and may go untreated, which can have a big impact on pregnancy-related deaths.”
Tudhope’s research takes place in the postgraduate space of professional development for new nurse practitioners, specifically, in the development and design of advanced practice registered nurse fellowship programs. These programs help ensure a successful transition into practice for new nurse practitioners in the community mental health sphere who are preparing to work with patients who have complex integrative health needs. Maternal mental health issues have been an ongoing interest for many current and past nurse fellows with whom Tudhope has worked.
Tudhope was recently awarded a four-year, $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources & Services Administration as part of the Advanced Nursing Education Nurse Practitioner Residency Fellowship Program. Funding will support 16 fellows over the course of four years, which will help to expand and enhance Tudhope’s current advanced practice registered nurse fellowship program at Portage Path Behavioral Health, located in Akron, Ohio.
“I’m excited about making maternal mental healthcare 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,” Tudhope said. “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 [Doctor of Nursing Practice] program students.”
The Advanced Nursing Education Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship Program began in 2018 and was the first psychiatric specialty program in the nation to be accredited with distinction by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The 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 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,” Tudhope said. “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 firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information regarding the application process.
Tudhope shared that this research will have far-reaching benefits that extend into the Northeast 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,” Tudhope said. “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 healthcare. Our communities, family members and loved ones are certainly going to benefit.”
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 Dr. Raman Krimpuri, vice-president and medical director at Portage Path Behavioral Health, and Dr. Vikil Girdhar, family medicine physician at AxessPointe Community Health Centers.
About Kent State University’s College of Nursing
In existence for more than 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 16,000 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 www.kent.edu/nursing.
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Kent State University nursing faculty member James Tudhope (far right) and his research team members Andrea Warner Stidham (far left) and Andrea Nelson (center) stand next to the Portage Path Behavioral Health sign.
Mariah Gibbons, email@example.com, 330-672-8756