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Rural Healthcare Workforce – Models and Innovations

These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy High Plains Community Health Center Care Teams
Updated/reviewed February 2019
  • Need: Meeting health care demands in a region with a limited number of physicians, where recruiting additional providers is considered impractical.
  • Intervention: Using the additional support of health coaches, implementation of care teams consisting of 3 medical assistants to support each provider.
  • Results: More patients seen per provider hour, with improved patient outcomes and clinic cost savings.

Other Project Examples

funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Implementation of a Nursing Veterans' Initiative to Transform Education (INVITE)
Updated/reviewed May 2019
  • Need: To support rural veterans pursuing a career in nursing.
  • Intervention: The INVITE program improved the curriculum and reworked admission requirements to better support veteran students' experiences in the College of St. Scholastica undergraduate nursing program.
  • Results: The number of veterans pursuing nursing has more than doubled since program implementation, and all students have reported an increased interest in serving rural communities.
Mississippi Rural Health Fellowship Certification
Updated/reviewed December 2018
  • 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.
Pathways to Healthcare Professions
Added December 2018
  • Need: Healthcare professionals and support staff are in high demand on tribal reservations in the Great Plains region.
  • Intervention: The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board of South Dakota offer healthcare occupation courses for industry-recognized healthcare certifications and post-secondary degrees through the Health Profession Opportunity Grants program.
  • Results: Since the program's start, 241 participants have completed a healthcare training program, and 109 have found employment in healthcare occupations. Both participants and healthcare providers have expressed the value in local and cultural training for these healthcare professions.
SCDMH Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Consultation Program
Updated/reviewed December 2018
  • Need: The shortage of mental health professionals in rural South Carolina resulted in an influx of patients admitted to emergency departments who were in need of psychiatric care.
  • Intervention: South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) partnered with The Duke Endowment to create the SCDMH Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Program. Rural emergency departments can now reach a psychiatrist to assess a patient via telehealth.
  • Results: The Program has improved access, affordability, and provided quality care for rural providers and patients with mental illness.
Frontier Area Rural Mental Health Camp and Mentorship Program (FARM CAMP)
Added July 2018
  • Need: To reduce the shortage of behavioral health professionals in rural Nebraska.
  • Intervention: A week-long camp teaches high school students in rural and tribal communities about different career options in behavioral health and provides mentorship after the camp ends.
  • Results: In 2018, 8 students attended the camp full-time, along with 4 alumni who participated part-time. Fifteen students attended the camps in 2017. Many camp participants talk about their positive experiences with younger students.
Military Medics and Corpsmen Program
Added July 2018
  • Need: To help veterans transition into civilian healthcare careers.
  • Intervention: MMAC and healthcare employers in urban and rural Virginia provide employment and education opportunities to veterans seeking civilian medical credentials.
  • Results: MMAC has accepted 120 applicants into the program, 80 of whom have already found employment via the MMAC program.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy ASPIN's Certified Recovery Specialist Program
Updated/reviewed June 2018
  • Need: Improved approach in addressing the behavioral health and primary care disparities of Indiana's underserved rural counties.
  • Intervention: A network was established that trained community health workers (CHW) to be certified health insurance enrollment navigators and provide mental health services.
  • Results: This year, ASPIN trained 49 CHWs, cross-trained 191 behavioral health case managers as CHWs, and 175 individuals in the Indiana Navigator Pre-certification Education.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Alaska Health Workforce Coalition
Updated/reviewed April 2018
  • Need: To ensure a well-qualified and sustainable Alaskan workforce to meet the current and future health care needs of its residents.
  • Intervention: Establishment of the Alaska Health Workforce Coalition (AHWC), a public-private partnership created to develop, facilitate, implement, and support a statewide health workforce system.
  • Results: Coalition efforts impacted multiple state policies and programs, including a loan repayment and incentives program, completion of a health vacancy study, and the development and expansion of health-related education programs.

Last Updated: 5/17/2019