Healthcare in the Shadows

Wayne State University Student Health Services Provided by Advanced Practice Nurses

Posted by on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 in News.

Ann Clifton in the lab at the student health center.

Wayne State University has an enrollment over 30,000 but just 10 years ago there was no student health service. An astute faculty member in the College of Nursing recognized that students with health issues had no where to turn and those who could benefit from health promotion simply weren’t getting any.  Mary P. White, Adult NP carried her vision and passion forward to the College of Nursing and to the university, ultimately writing a federal grant to support a pilot project that opened the first student health service on campus.  The one room–one nurse practitioner (Mary)–one medical assistant clinic survived the pilot period and the university approved moving forward with a permanent service.

Today the student health service is operated by the Nursing Practice Corporation, a not for profit arm of the College of Nursing (NPC) in a  greatly expanded space on the ground floor of an on campus apartment building.  All care is provided by family and adult nurse practitioners, medical assistants, and registration clerks. Ann Clifton, MSN, ANP trained under Mary White when she was getting her adult nurse practitioner degree at Wayne State.  She’s the Chief Nursing Officer for NPC and is responsible for all aspects of services provided to students.  Approximately 10% of the student body uses the clinic on a regular basis generating over 8000 patient visits per year.

The clinic actively markets clinical and health promotion services to the student body.  Social media is heavily leveraged and they have developed a unique peer educator program–the Healthy You Crew– that employs interested students who are trained to provide health promotion activities and events across campus throughout each semester.  A weight management program is available to students grounded by a dietician, just one health promotion program offered by the clinic.  On the day of my visit, in the waiting room, I can see a TV monitor running promotions for Facebook and Twitter links as well as alerting students to the weight management program which is essentially free.

Campus Health Services in 2015

This nurse managed clinical practice is financially stable based on its contract with the university and third party billing.  They have a vision to expand their services to faculty and staff.  Talks are ongoing with university leadership to move this vision forward.  They may open a second site close to campus where faculty, staff and the local neighborhood could be served.

Most university student health services are not operated by the college of nursing nor do most use advanced practice nurses exclusively to manage the care of their student populations.  Wayne State has successfully implemented a nurse managed model of care for its student body, thanks to the pioneering work of Mary White and the capable management and vision of Ann Clifton and the NPC board of directors (all College of Nursing faculty members).  This is a model that works for students, for the College of Nursing, and is a cost effective way to insure a healthy university community.  Perhaps other universities could learn from Wayne State’s experience.





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