Cal State San Marcos ‘doubles down’ on mental health training program


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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Two Cal State San Marcos School of Nursing professors received a $1.33 million grant to help build a pipeline of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, the university announced Friday.

Catherine Baker and Nancy Romig were awarded the five-year grant from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, which in total doled out $17.3 million for seven programs. Baker is an assistant professor and Romig is a professor emerita in CSUSM’s School of Nursing. Both are co-coordinators of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program.

“As we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times, the uncertainty and fear related to the pandemic has brought about uneasy feelings that can further exacerbate mental health issues while creating additional barriers in accessing supports and services,” said Marko Mijic, acting director of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. “We must double down on our efforts to build our public mental health system in order to expand access to quality services to all Californians.”

Over the five years, the grant will provide full scholarships for 20 new nurse practitioner students and fund the costs associated with admitting additional students and securing field placements, according to CSUSM.

After this academic year, which is dedicated to preparation for expansion, the nurse practitioner program will add five additional nursing master’s students for 2021-22 and each of the subsequent three school years. Funding will provide for expanded faculty, student recruitment, clinical site visits, preceptors, standardized patient costs and an annual training workshop for preceptors who oversee students.

The grants are funded through the Workforce Education and Training program as part of the Mental Health Services Act, which is intended to address the shortage of mental health practitioners in the public mental health system. Collectively, the grantees will add 36 psychiatry residency slots and fund 336 Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner slots. The funding will also help launch a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship program.

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