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RNs in Primary Care Residency/Fellowship Program

RNs in Primary Care Program Information

Funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the RNs in Primary Care Residency/Fellowship supports Registered Nurses by preparing them to assume high level nursing practice in primary care settings through developing leadership and clinical skills. The residency/fellowship includes a robust competency based curriculum, virtual reality simulations as well as the use of standardized patients to create immersive, educational, and innovative experiences. Participants will gain valuable insight and experience from a variety of settings and experts, supporting their path to practice in both rural and urban primary care settings.

All BSN prepared registered nurses may apply. Residency is designed for RN’s with less than one year experience. Fellowship is designed for RN’s with more than one year experience. Residencies and Fellowships begin July and January of each year.

Contact Jennifer Bruni, Grant Director at:  for more information.

If you are interested in practicing in primary care and you have not yet completed your BSN, visit the RNs in Primary Care Internship website.

Meeting Today's Healthcare Needs

As the focus for reimbursement for healthcare services moves towards value based purchasing, new roles are emerging for nurses to help manage and navigate care for populations in primary care and community settings. Western Carolina’s school of nursing is helping prepare student nurses for these emerging roles. Through the RNPC Grant, the WCU SON has created a 6-month primary care residency for new graduates of BSN programs as well as a fellowship program for BSN RNs working in acute care who wish to transition to primary care. The intensive residency and fellowship offers BSN graduates an opportunity to work one on one with a nurse preceptor in a community setting to foster a deeper understanding of the skills and responsibilities necessary to be a community health nurse. If you are interested in this unique opportunity, please contact the RNs in Primary Care Grant Director, Jennifer Bruni at


BSN prepared nurses who have graduated within one year of start date can participate in the residency program. BSN prepared nurses already practicing who wish to transition to primary care can participate in the fellowship program. If you would like more information about participating, please email Jennifer Bruni, Grant Director at: OR Apply

What to Expect

  • An array of specially designed experiences to strengthen core competencies in primary care nursing.
    Immersive Practicum Experience, Robust Online Modules, High-Fidelity Simulations, Practice Focused Projects with inter-professional team members, weekly conferences with WCU RNPC grant faculty
  • Residents and Fellows are hired full time (6 months) at their practicum placement site and paired 1:1 with a dedicated RNPC nurse preceptor. Participants also benefit from mentors and WCU faculty support.


As part of the Residency/Fellowship programs, participants will enjoy practicing in several types of simulations!  Virtual learning labs are an innovative and effective way to provide experience for high risk, low exposure scenarios such as anaphylactic shock and behavioral health emergencies.  WCU RNs in Primary Care programs created virtual reality simulations in collaboration with  Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) and Learning Lab 360 . Click on the photo below to see our students in action filmed by WLOS news!


Nursing Student participating in virtual reality simulation


How will this program prepare me to practice in community health settings?

This intensive program will provide you with knowledge, skills, and abilities to practice at your fully licensed scope as a registered nurse, with emphasis on primary care settings.  New reimbursement models are focusing on improving quality of care delivery as well as recognizing the need for care coordination and care management to promote and support clients’ health.  Registered nurses can bring a wide range of patient centered, clinical knowledge and skills to provide nursing interventions to support these goals and make valuable contributions to the primary care enterprise.

Our competency based curriculum has been developed with practice partner consultation. Key competencies  developed by the Ambulatory Care Nursing and Care Transition and Care Management core curriculum are embedded within the curriculum and support the new AACN Essentials for Nursing. During your program, you will engage in practice focused quality improvement projects, learn about the business of health care and learn to articulate the value of RN integration on the primary care team.

Competencies developed throughout the residency and fellowship include:

  1. Engage in effective collaboration with healthcare team members and clients to support team based, integrated delivery of primary care services
  2. Conduct holistic assessment to include impact of social determinants of health, psychosocial and mental well-being, along with acute and chronic disease processes and the human response
  3. Utilize critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills to provide safe, compassionate, and high quality nursing care to clients and their families in the primary care setting
  4. Manage primary care service delivery to clients across spheres of care (health promotion, disease prevention and management, restorative and palliative/supportive) and stages of the lifespan
  5. Integrate research and best practice with clinical expertise and a client's own unique values and circumstances to support evidence based care
  6. Support population health, care transitions, and client care management and to promote safe provision of care and positive patient and practice outcomes
  7. Examine healthcare financing and its impact on client care provision, practice outcomes and nursing practice in the primary care setting
  8. Advocate for nursing roles in primary care that support practice to the full licensed scope of the BSN-RN

Clinical Practice Sites:

At each clinical site, a BSN prepared nurse preceptor is devoted to RNPC nursing Residents and Fellows. Residents and Fellows work collaboratively with their preceptor and the entire healthcare team to develop care plans for patients. Team-based approaches are gaining more momentum as evidence supports its value in primary care settings.  WCU SON has partnered with several primary care health agencies to serve as clinical sites.

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