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July 10, 2023

SVSU Receives $2.6 million to address behavioral health care needs in rural Michigan

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With a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources & Services Administration, Saginaw Valley State University will collaborate with Northern Michigan University to enhance behavioral health care in rural northern Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula.  

“This innovative collaboration between Saginaw Valley State University and Northern Michigan University will bring vital resources and support to underserved populations,” said Kathleen Schachman, Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Professor of Nursing at SVSU. “By expanding educational opportunities for advanced practice nurses, we aim to bridge gaps in patient care and empower nurse practitioners to meet the specific needs of their communities.” 

Over the next four years, SVSU will receive $650,000 per year through the Advanced Nursing Education Workforce program to partner with NMU to expand educational opportunities for advanced practice nurses in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Through the BRIDGE UP program, SVSU will offer its psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) program in collaboration with NMU. Through the grant funding, 31 part-time nurse practitioners annually can participate in a psychiatric mental health traineeship that reduces the cost of their education by nearly 85%. 

Hands-on workshops will be offered once a semester on the NMU campus to reduce travel requirements.  In addition, SVSU and NMU are establishing two academic-practice partnerships — with Great Lakes Recovery Centers and Suunta Integrative Health, both in the U.P. ― to provide students with a longitudinal clinical immersion. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be eligible to take the certification examination and provide mental health care and addiction treatment as nurse practitioners.  

“This project holds tremendous promise to expand access to mental health and addictions treatment for the people who need it, while also addressing the pressing need to reduce health inequities in rural Michigan,” Schachman said. 

As part of the BRIDGE UP project, SVSU will develop an interprofessional rural health equity micro-credential to equip health professions students to advocate for and deliver high-quality, cost-effective, equitable health care to improve health care outcomes and increase client satisfaction. Through a combination of classwork, simulation and clinical immersion, students will work as part of an interprofessional team with social work and occupational therapy students within a social determinants of health framework. Over a 4-year period, nearly 200 nurse practitioner students will earn the rural health equity micro-credential.  

The BRIDGE UP project signifies a significant step toward improving behavioral health care access in rural Michigan. By equipping nurse practitioners with specialized training and fostering interprofessional collaboration, SVSU and NMU intend to reduce health disparities and enhance the well-being of individuals and communities in the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan. 

“We expect to increase the number, diversity and geographic distribution of nurse practitioners with specialized psychiatric mental health preparation,” Schachman said. “The impact will be far-reaching, transforming lives and creating a more inclusive and resilient healthcare system for all.” 

SVSU’s psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program offers both post-graduate certificate and doctoral degree tracks. For more information, contact Kathleen Schachman, SVSU’s Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Professor of Nursing and PMHNP program coordinator, at (989) 964-4339 or or Tanika Williams, graduate admissions coordinator, at (989) 461-2050 or