A major grant given to MSU’s Wilson School of Nursing is helping better prepare students who work with those most in need of medical care. The $1.5 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration will help students pay for their education, as well as provide new teaching technology, which will, in the end, help improve the quality of medical care in Texoma.

David Mahler and Bobbie Jo McKenzie have been working in the medical field for about ten years. They’re recent graduates of MSU’s Wilson School of Nursing as family nurse practitioners.

“Nursing is to help those that really truly need it,” said McKenzie.

The funds given to the MUSTANGS or Medically Underserved Specialization for Advanced Nursing Graduate Students program helps with the cost of school, as students prepare to work in underserved populations, which both McKenzie and Mahler say they’re passionate about.

“There’s not a lot of access to the rural communities where I was from. And I saw the need,” McKenzie said.

“What motivated me into the nurse practitioner program was maybe if I can intervene earlier in the process, just compassion on humanity,” said Mahler.

MSU is one of 50 schools receiving the money from the HRSA. Kathleen Williamson, Ph.D. Wilson School of Nursing chair said applying for the grant is a rigorous process; but it’s worth it, knowing how much of an impact it can have.

“One of the things we qualified for was being in a rurally underserved, medically underserved area,” said Williamson. “I think it’s about 75 percent of our students go to work in an underserved area upon graduation,” Williamson said.

One of those places benefiting from such programs are the patients at the Community Healthcare Center. Misty Montellano is a nurse practitioner there and explained that working in an underserved community not only gives you different kinds of medical experience very quickly, it also teaches you how to grow relationships.

“They learn where all the resources are in the community. They’re able to know what programs to reach out to help these people,” Montellano said.

And with the resources and knowledge they acquire, Montellano and Williamson point out with well-trained professionals like McKenzie and Mahler, community healthcare has a promising prognosis.

Williamson added some of the money they received in this grant is going toward telemedicine equipment. It will also help fund an interdisciplinary medical conference in May.