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Helping rural communities change their future

For this project, we partnered with the Northern Area Heath Education Center (NAHEC) to highlight and bring awareness to the Rural Immersion program. NAHEC has been working with colleges and local health care providers for 3 years to support bringing Rural Immersion into rural communities that need it the most.

Program Overview

The Rural Immersion program promotes rural communities to future healthcare providers by immersing them the community for one week.

The major goals for this program are to:

1.  Help students gain an understanding of rural healthcare settings, including their benefits and barriers

2. Have students become interested in a career in rural medicine (a high need area in healthcare) and health care

3. Expose students to a variety of different healthcare professions.

To meet these goals, students will spend a week immersed in the community and shadowing healthcare professionals at a designated hospital. Students will meet and interview various hospital employees (CEO, managers, physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, technicians, etc.), area healthcare services representatives (public health, behavioral services, hospice, LifeNet emergency services, etc.), and community members.

Program objectives

Upon successful completion of this course students shall be able to:

1. Identify general tasks and scope of clinical care for various health professionals through shadowing and interviewing

2. Understand the management and services of a small urgent care hospital

3. Understand what healthcare services are available/not available in the community outside the hospital (hospice, dental, mental health, etc.) and the challenges people may face in the lack of these services

4. Assess and understand the relationship and communication between the community and the hospital

5. Identify health issues and challenges in the local community and think critically about solutions

6. Assemble and deliver an oral presentation of their findings and assessment to the local community

Community Development

The rural immersion program is far more than just recruiting health care professionals. It is about building a community and growing the local economy. In this effort, we’re all indispensable stakeholders.

Program Impact

So far, the program has been highly accredited and extremely successful in influencing undergraduate students to continue studying medicine with the intent to bring their services to rural areas.

Questions or Comments

Please Contact

Richard K. Merchant, Chief Executive Officer
Health WorkForce New York
(315) 379-7701

Health care in a rural area can represent up to 20% of the community’s employment and income

American Academy of Family Physicians (2015)

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