A dozen graduate-student reporters from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications will spend the summer working on a major investigation of the mental health delivery system in Onondaga County.Under the direction of Professor Joel Kaplan, chair of the newspaper department in the Newhouse School, the students will take an in-depth look at five major mental health questions:

  • What is the current state of providing mental health benefits to low- and moderate-income county residents in the wake of the federal welfare overhaul, and state and federal budget cuts?
  • How has the growth of health maintenance organizations (HMOs) affected mental health benefits to recipients of private insurance plans in light of the New York State insurance mandate?
  • How has the faltering Central New York economy affected benefits like employee assistance programs for the companies that have remained here?
  • What is the current make-up of the homeless population in an area characterized by brutal winters?
  • With the downsizing of Hutchings Psychiatric Center, the major mental health facility in Central New York, how well is it-as well as other local outpatient treatment facilities and residences—performing?

Annemarie Poyol
Rosalynn Carter congratulates journalism professor Joel Kaplan
on his fellowship.

      The study is funded by a grant from the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism, part of the nonprofit Carter Center founded in 1982 by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University.
      Beginning this year, the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship provides grants to journalists to study select topics regarding mental health or mental illness as part of a national effort to reduce stigma and discrimination.
      One of five inaugural fellowship recipients, Kaplan is the only one active as both a scholar and journalist.
      Last summer, he introduced a new capstone course required of all newspaper master's degree students. The first group took an in-depth look at Onondaga Lake, its pollution, and cleanup problems, and The Syracuse Newspapers published the students' articles. Kaplan expects the students' work this summer on the mental health delivery system in Onondaga County will also be published.
      "This is an ambitious project," Kaplan says. "But I'm convinced that a group of a dozen young, talented reporters working full time for six weeks will provide the community with a comprehensive picture of the current status of mental health providers and the recipients of their services."


Today's health care system is changing as care moves out of hospitals and into the community. Cost-conscious patients, meanwhile, are beginning to choose nurses as their primary health care providers.
      The College of Nursing is answering the challenge of an evolving field by revising its graduate program in Advanced Practice Nursing (APN). The program merges clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner competencies, equipping graduates with diverse skills and broader job opportunities. Prepared as advanced practice nurses, graduates will provide specialized clinical services to clients and influence evolving systems of care to meet client needs.
      Advanced practice nurses are prepared in various clinical areas. "The more flexible you are in a changing environment, the more you meet job expectations, are satisfied in your professional life, and provide better quality health care to clients," says Betty Essman, a professor in the program.
      Janice Pedersen, director of professional and graduate admissions in the College of Nursing, says APN students benefit from the integration of clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner knowledge: The former generally stresses research, teaching, administrative, consultant, and clinician roles, while the latter includes diagnosing and treating common health problems with prescriptive privileges. "As advanced practice nurses, they're prepared to fulfill either of these roles," Pedersen says. "In these extended roles, there are more employment opportunities."

      Graduates can seek New York State nurse practitioner certification and national certification as clinical nurse specialists in their specialty areas. Essman says the program's broad education enables students to choose their paths in nursing.
      First-year student Donna Felton's goal is to work as a nursing instructor. She hopes her studies increase her value in the job market. "I think the school was very savvy in saying it wanted to have a role in producing nurse practitioners that are geared toward adult, family, and pediatric care," she says.
      Dawn Schmalzriedt, a first-year student working toward a pediatric nurse practitioner degree, says she particularly benefits from the program's first-semester focus on well children. "By providing us with the opportunity to see a whole semester's worth of well children, the program provides us with a great base so that when we do see sick kids or abnormalities, we can more easily identify them."
      The College of Nursing is known for visionary leadership, Pedersen says. "We anticipate the needs for health care and how the systems are changing in order to educate our students for the future. We know what it takes to get there."

                                                  —DAISY SAPOLSKY

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Main Home Page Summer 1998 Issue Contents
Chancellor's Message Opening Remarks In Basket
H. Douglas Barclay Vision Quest Student Career Services
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Student Center Faculty Focus Research Report
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