NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Old Dominion University’s School of Nursing has received a “transformative” $2.6 million grant to help boost the number of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to help rural and other underserved areas of Virginia.

The grant was awarded through the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, as part of a “strategic initiative to address the pressing healthcare needs of communities that have long been neglected and face significant barriers to accessing quality medical care.”

Through the program, they’ll train 100 students over a four-year period, with an emphasize on healthcare disparities, mental health and substance use disorders and more.

“This HRSA grant will allow us to make a tangible impact on the lives of those residing in underserved communities,” said Suzanne Wright, Ph.D., Dean of ODU’s School of Nursing. “Our focus will be on training and supporting a diverse group of Student Trainee Scholars who will be well-prepared to address the unique healthcare needs of rural and underserved populations.”

ODU says 79% of Virginia’s 136 cities and counties are designated as full or partial Medically Underserved Areas, and more than half are identified as Health Profession Shortage Areas. The project will focus on Southside Virginia, where the poverty rate (26%) is twice the state average (13%).

You can read more about the grant and the program here.