Radford University’s Waldron College of Health and Human Services (WCHHS) has been awarded a four-year, $1.9 million Mental and Behavioral Health Education and Training Grant by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA.)


“The grant will enable Radford University to develop curriculum and train students for valuable experiences in working directly with patients who have substance use issues.” said Project Director and Associate Professor of Nursing Victoria Bierman B.S. ’77, B.S.N. ’98, M.S.N. ’04.

Radford students from the Schools of Nursing and Social Work, Master of Occupational Therapy (OT) program, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program, Counselor Education program and Criminal Justice program will be clinically trained to work with individuals assigned to local drug courts.

The grant is a collaboration by faculty from the WCHHS, the College of Education and Human Development and the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences to train and supervise behavioral health care professionals to confront the effects of widespread alcohol and drug use that has been termed a “national crisis.”

The program, according to Bierman, will enable Radford students to gain collaborative experience, evidence-based knowledge and clinical skills on behalf of “a most underserved and vulnerable population.”

The grant will put students, after successful completion of a training program, to work under faculty supervision with individuals and their families who are recommended by program partners from the Pulaski County Drug Court and New River Valley Community Services. Bierman said she anticipates the trained personnel to be in service by spring 2018.

“In practice, health care professionals must work smoothly as a team to save lives,” said Bierman. “As a university, we have a wonderful opportunity to come together and effectively model how to teach, learn and practice across disciplines as we face a social and medical problem affecting our immediate community and our country.”

To develop and implement the program, Bierman, was joined by School of Social Work Chair Diane Hodge, Counselor Education Department Chair Nadine Hartig, Assistant Professor of OT Sheila Krajnik, Associate Professor of OT Sarah Smidl and Criminal Justice Instructor Benjamin Wright.

“The extensive collaborative effort this latest grant creates is another example of Waldron College and Radford University’s ongoing work in the field and in the classroom to support students and communities by working toward solutions to complex health care issues,” said WCHHS Dean Kenneth Cox.

In August at Radford’s annual convocation ceremonies, Bierman joined the Radford University Foundation’s Million Dollar Circle that recognizes Radford faculty who receive $1 million or more in external grants or contracts. In July, Bierman produced a successful grant proposal that resulted in a two-year, $1 million HRSA Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Grant. The two-year grant enables Radford to support advanced practice nursing students’ work in underserved rural communities.

The substance use education and training grant is the latest initiative to incorporate interprofessional practice, an evidence-based best practice, by WCHHS programs and faculty. A related WCHHS initiative to incorporate the best practice is the Center for Interprofessional Education and Practice (CIPEP). CIPEP sharpens the WCHHS focus on preparing health care and human service providers to transform service delivery through collaborative practice.

Interprofessional practice is predicated upon the tenet that sustainable health care, effective health promotion and good patient outcomes require full and creative participation of all providers.

— Don Bowman

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