Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rural providers recruit local citizens, get outside help to fill gaps in health-care workforces

"Frontier and rural health care providers looking for innovative ways to solve increasing workforce shortages are sometimes finding that help is as near as their own backyards: by recruiting and training local people to be health care professionals in their communities," reports Candi Helseth in the Summer edition of The Rural Monitor.

The story cites examples from Nevada, Alaska and Maryland. In the photograph, Dr. Christine Alarcon, left, and assistant Lisa Windsor treat a three-year-old patient at the only dental clinic for low-income children in Dorchester County, on Maryland's isolated Eastern Shore. Community groups "negotiated a deal with Alleghany College in western Maryland to reserve two spots for Eastern Shore students in its dental hygiene program. . . . Students were required to commit to practicing at least two years on the Eastern Shore."

The University of Nevada "developed a medical student rotation program to introduce students to rural practice and, at the same time, provide more services to those communities," and directors of a frontier hospital in Alaska "picked up the bill for hospital employees to become registered nurses," Helseth writes. (Read more) The Rural Monitor is published by the federally funded Rural Assistance Center, a collaboration of the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health, the Rural Policy Research Institute and the Office of Rural Health Policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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