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Education and Training of the 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.

Effective Examples

MU-AHEC Summer Community Program
Updated/reviewed August 2017
  • Need: Lack of healthcare providers, specifically physicians, in rural Missouri.
  • Intervention: Rising second-year medical students at University of Missouri's School of Medicine are given the opportunity to participate in a clinical program in a rural community setting.
  • Results: Almost half of the participants from 1996-2010 chose to practice in rural locations upon graduation.
OHSU Rural Surgery Training
Updated/reviewed March 2017
  • Need: General surgeons are needed in rural communities.
  • Intervention: Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is sending residents to complete a one-year general surgery rotation in southern rural Oregon.
  • Results: Almost half of the graduates of the Grants Pass rural residency program are now practicing in a rural setting, and the residents are more likely to enter general surgery practice and serve in a community of less than 50,000 people.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Appalachian Preceptorship Program
Updated/reviewed October 2016
  • Need: To prepare future physicians for practicing in rural southern Appalachia.
  • Intervention: The Appalachian Preceptorship Program offers medical students clinical preceptorships to give them experience practicing in rural, underserved communities of southern Appalachia.
  • Results: Students who participate in this preceptorship are more than 3 times as likely to practice medicine in a rural location.

Promising Examples

funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Learning Exchange Reverse Demonstration (LERD) Model
Updated/reviewed July 2017
  • Need: To make it easier for rural nurses to continue their education by decreasing the need to travel.
  • Intervention: An innovative, online health assessment course uses telehealth to allow rural RN-BSN students to demonstrate skills acquisition.
  • Results: Rural participants had similar learning outcomes to those participating in the onsite version of the course, with fewer travel costs, less time away from work, and higher overall satisfaction.

Other Project Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Great Basin College Emergency Medical Services Program
Updated/reviewed December 2017
  • Need: Recognizing the need to increase emergency response times, rural Nevada struggled to recruit and retain EMTs, AEMTs, and Paramedics.
  • Intervention: Great Basin College created the EMS program to recruit and train new EMTs and paramedics.
  • Results: The program has now trained hundreds of state-certified EMTs and AEMTs in rural Nevada.
Successfully Training and Educating Pre-medical Students (STEPS)
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: To increase the number of primary care providers in northeast Kentucky.
  • Intervention: STEPS provides support such as physician shadowing, mock interviews, and MCAT practice exams for regional students applying to medical school.
  • Results: 22 of the 28 total participants have been accepted into medical school.
Chuuk Women’s Council
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: A way to improve health of women in Chuuk, one of 4 states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia.
  • Intervention: Through health education and leadership training, the Chuuk Women’s Council equips women to be leaders in healthcare, government, and other areas where they can be advocates for female physical, mental, and socioeconomic health.
  • Results: The Council’s advocacy efforts have advanced opportunities for women in Chuuk and have influenced legislation to bring equal opportunity to Chuukese women.
NEON Community Health Worker Training Program
Updated/reviewed September 2017
  • Need: To train, equip and prepare Community Health Workers for certification to practice in Oregon’s rural settings
  • Intervention: Development of a 90-hour training program that requires an additional 80 hours of seat time, written summaries, and a final skills evaluation.
  • Results: With its original program, NEON trained 83 CHWs, with 38 currently registered with the state. Of those initially certified and registered, 8 are hospital or clinic-based, 8 are embedded in mental health organizations, 10 are in community-based organizations and 7 are in health departments or with the Department of Human Services.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Stone Mountain Health Services Behavioral Health Internship
Updated/reviewed September 2017
  • Need: Increase behavioral health services and providers in rural Appalachian communities of Southwest Virginia.
  • Intervention: Implementing a behavioral health internship that is a partnership of 2 universities and a community health center, with infrastructure to also support a social work internship.
  • Results: Behavioral health services now available in the 7-county area served by the health center, with designated behavioral health staff to supervise psychology and social work interns.
Club Scrub
Updated/reviewed July 2017
  • Need: Rural Wisconsin communities experience threatened healthcare infrastructure due to workforce shortages.
  • Intervention: The Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, in partnership with the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health, created a youth program to increase awareness of health-related professions known as Club Scrub.
  • Results: Middle-school students attend the program and gain a better understanding of career options in the healthcare industry.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy MaineGeneral Harm Reduction Program
Added July 2017
  • Need: To reduce deaths from opioid overdoses in rural Maine.
  • Intervention: The MaineGeneral Harm Reduction Program provides community education and training for healthcare staff and first responders in rural Kennebec and Somerset counties.
  • Results: During the grant period, MaineGeneral trained 45 deputies and 246 healthcare staff and educated 60 community members.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Project Renew
Added July 2017
  • Need: To reduce deaths due to opioid overdose in rural southeast West Virginia.
  • Intervention: Project Renew trains and certifies first responders, healthcare staff, and laypeople in naloxone administration.
  • Results: Project Renew has saved 10 lives since its inception.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy FORWARD NM Pathways to Health Careers
Updated/reviewed May 2017
  • Need: New Mexico's southwestern counties of Hidalgo, Catron, Luna, and Grant have experienced chronic shortages of primary care providers. New Mexico has the oldest physician population in the country.
  • Intervention: A comprehensive workforce pipeline program, including programming for middle and high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, primary care program students, and medical and dental residents.
  • Results: The program reaches over 2,000 school-aged students throughout the service areas and hosts 70+ rural rotation experiences annually. It has also gained partnership with the HMS-Family Medicine Residency Program since 2013 and designation as an Area Health Education Center (AHEC) since 2012.
Wisconsin Collaborative for Rural Graduate Medical Education
Updated/reviewed May 2017
  • Need: Family physicians in the rural areas of Wisconsin.
  • Intervention: A collaborative was created that provides leadership, technical assistance, and training for expanding rural graduate medical education in Wisconsin.
  • Results: The collaborative expanded rural graduate medical education rotations, residencies, and fellowship opportunities for training rural family physicians in Wisconsin.
Minot-Williston Rural Training Track Program
Updated/reviewed March 2017
  • Need: Like many rural areas, parts of North Dakota lack primary care physicians to fulfill the needs of the community.
  • Intervention: The Minot-Williston Rural Track Program was developed to create new medical residency opportunities in rural North Dakota.
  • Results: Over 800 applicants applied for the two residency slots offered.
Right Side Up Falls Prevention
Updated/reviewed January 2017
  • Need: Falling is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in adults over the age of 65.
  • Intervention: The Right Side Up program was implemented in rural Otter Tail County to address the prevention and management of falls and risk for falls through in-home assessments given by interdisciplinary healthcare professionals and students.
  • Results: Short-term outcomes revealed 100% of participants found the visit and recommendations for falls prevention to be helpful, and 78% implemented these recommendations.
Simulation in Motion-South Dakota (SIM-SD) EMS Educational Outreach Program
Updated/reviewed January 2017
  • Need: To provide increased educational opportunities for emergency care personnel in rural and frontier South Dakota.
  • Intervention: A technologically advanced training was created to enhance the delivery of emergency patient care.
  • Results: Hundreds of EMS staff and volunteers received training that in turn helped them in the field of emergency patient care.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy “It’s a HIT!” Rural Health IT Workforce Training Program
Updated/reviewed January 2017
  • Need: To provide rural health workers with advanced health information technology (HIT) training and skills.
  • Intervention: A program for health network members to increase HIT knowledge and prepare for Certified Healthcare Technology Specialist (CHTS) certification.
  • Results: Participants learned how to adopt HIT within their own clinics, and 80% of students received certification as an HIT Clinic Workflow Redesign Specialist.
Rescue Divas EMT Recruitment
Updated/reviewed December 2016
  • Need: There is a shortage of EMTs in rural northern Wisconsin.
  • Intervention: Rescue Divas is a summer camp program geared toward middle school girls that was created to spark an interest in future careers in emergency medical services.
  • Results: The number of girls who were very interested in pursuing a career in EMS jumped from 6 to 13 after participating in Rescue Divas.
Rural Nevada EMS Conference
Added September 2016
  • Need: To provide rural Nevada EMS personnel an opportunity to receive quality training and current EMS information from national EMS educators.
  • Intervention: For 25 years, the Rural Nevada EMS Conference has been offering continuing education units and engaging sessions for EMS personnel.
  • Results: The 2015 conference was rated as "very good" or "excellent" by 97% of its 251 participants.
Hawai'i Island Family Medicine Residency
Added August 2016
  • Need: Hawaii is experiencing a huge shortage of family medicine physicians.
  • Intervention: The Hawai'i Island Family Medicine Residency (HIFMR) program uses an interprofessional team-based approach so residents learn how to care for many types of patients in different healthcare settings.
  • Results: In 2015, there were over 750 applicants to the residency program, which is now at full capacity with 12 residents. The first class of residents will graduate in June 2017.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy EMS Live@Nite
Updated/reviewed July 2016
  • Need: 80% of rural EMS providers are volunteers. Distance, time, and cost make it difficult for these volunteers to attend continuing education and maintain certification.
  • Intervention: Inland Northwest Health Services delivers free online training to rural EMS providers via video teleconferencing.
  • Results: The EMS Live@Nite program provides free, monthly training to rural EMS providers in the northwestern part of the United States. The Program is available through live video conferencing from certified locations in rural communities.
Project PROMISE
Added February 2016
  • Need: An increased interest among young people to pursue a medical career in rural North Carolina
  • Intervention: Two medical students started a program that gives high school seniors medical academic training, mentor relationships, and hands-on experience in rural North Carolina facilities.
  • Results: Project PROMISE has graduated 10 high school students, 5 of whom are pursuing an undergraduate degree with an interest in studying medicine.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy TUSM-MMC Program Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship
Added February 2016
  • Need: To fill vacant medical positions in Maine's rural medical facilities.
  • Intervention: The Tufts Maine Track LIC program offers clerkships in rural medical facilities, exposing medical school students to the positives and possibilities that rural practices have to offer.
  • Results: The program has seen an increase in students' interest to practice in rural Maine. The majority have pursued medical careers in one of the 6 core specialties studied during their clerkship.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST) Program
Updated/reviewed December 2015
  • Need: There is a shortage of rural physicians in the Northwestern United States.
  • Intervention: University of Washington medical students are receiving training through the TRUST program in rural, underserved communities across a five-state radius.
  • Results: Long-lasting connections have been formed among regional and underserved communities, medical students, and rural health professionals, producing more rural physicians as a result.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Experiences for Health Professions Students (REHPS)
Updated/reviewed October 2015
  • Need: An ongoing shortage of healthcare providers in rural areas of South Dakota
  • Intervention: A 4-week summer program placing health professions students in rural communities.
  • Results: Participants express a better understanding of rural health care and interest in future rural practice. Of the 29 participants who have graduated, 26 are practicing in South Dakota and 10 have gone on to practice in rural communities with populations fewer than 10,000 or veteran facilities.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy ACA Online Training Module for Rural Healthcare Providers
Added August 2014
  • Need: To strengthen the healthcare system in rural northern New England by helping local community and Critical Access Hospital providers assist their patients in learning about health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Intervention: An online training module to help providers learn about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and find local ACA enrollment resources.
  • Results: 14 providers in 4 counties registered for the training.

Last Updated: 12/4/2017