Mississippi Rural Health Fellowship Certification
- Need: A way to recognize Mississippi healthcare professionals and medical students for their rural-specific experience and expertise.
- Intervention: The Mississippi Rural Health Association created 2 certifications that recognize rural health experience and also foster a greater understanding of rural-specific policies, regulations, and needs in the healthcare field.
- Results: Fellowship recipients receive statewide recognition for the time and dedication they have put into improving rural health in Mississippi.
In order to recognize Mississippi healthcare providers and medical students' rural expertise and experience, the Mississippi Rural Health Association (MRHA) created 2 certifications in 2016. These certifications are the first of their kind and were also designed to foster a greater understanding of rural-specific policies, regulations, and needs in the healthcare field.
The Mississippi Rural Health Fellowship (MRHF) is a 3-year certification awarded to administrators and hospital clinicians who work in a rural healthcare facility.
The Mississippi Rural Health Student Fellowship (MRHSF) is a 3-year certification awarded to students in various healthcare disciplines who have taken rural-specific coursework and plan on working in a rural healthcare setting.
A committee of seasoned MRHA members reviews all applications and approves the applicants to receive the certification based on their meeting of the following required qualifications:
- Must be an active member of the Mississippi Rural Health Association
- Prior experience in rural health for 3 or more years (students omitted)
- Complete at least 75 hours of continuing education credits through MRHA or another organization over the 3-year certification period
- Complete a Quality Improvement Project or Policy/Legislation Project through work in a yearlong cohort
The MRHF and MRHSF certifications enhance the credibility of the awardee and gives them formal recognition for their dedication, understanding, and improvement of rural health. Students receiving the award may also be more marketable for a career in rural healthcare.
The fellow program accepts applicants in January of each year that are part of a year-long cohort of professionals focused on either rural health policy, or community impact. These cohorts work together to accomplish either local or statewide projects for the overall benefit of Mississippi rural health.
A total of 10 recipients from across the state have received certification: 9 MRHA recipients and 1 MRHSF recipient. Through this certification process, fellowship recipients have gained special acknowledgement for their experience and work in rural health, helping to set them apart from others in the field and serving as a milestone in their career.
Healthcare professionals receiving the certification have been recognized at special events and marketing efforts to MRHA members, healthcare facilities, and media outlets across the state.
The greatest barrier to implementing this certification process has been finding the best avenues to promote certificate awardees to ensure they get adequate press coverage across the state. Although efforts were made to promote the opportunity through media outlets, self-publishing and creating awareness among MRHA members have been the most effective avenues for creating awareness.
Currently, several other states are considering replicating this fellow program. The Mississippi Rural Health Association is willing to help other State Offices of Rural Health and Rural Health Associations start a fellowship certification in order to promote the benefit of working in rural health and those who do so. When considering offering a certification like this, the following should be considered:
- Streamline the process for approving fellowship recipients. Use electronic avenues to host applications, communicate with applicants, and announce winners.
- Create an aggressive public relations campaign to implement immediately after the awards are distributed, ensuring the awareness of certifications and awardees in healthcare facilities.
Health workforce education and training
October 5, 2017
Date updated or reviewed
December 3, 2018
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2018. Mississippi Rural Health Fellowship Certification [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/980 [Accessed 24 October 2020]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.