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
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 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
Must be an active member of the Mississippi Rural
Prior experience in rural health for 3 or more years
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
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
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
Create an aggressive public relations campaign to
implement immediately after the awards are distributed,
ensuring the awareness of certifications and awardees in
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.