Category Archives: AARP Solutions Forum: Rural Health

Jun 29 2011
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Fourth in a Series: "Nothing Has More Strength than Dire Necessity"

The AARP Solutions Forum: “Advancing Health in Rural America: Maximizing Nursing’s Impact,” was held on June 13. This post is the fourth in a series in which Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholars share their thoughts on the ideas presented. The author, Elizabeth A. Kostas-Polston, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., W.H.N.P.-B.C., is an assistant professor at Saint Louis University School of Nursing. Find out more about the forum or view the archived webcast.

Nearly one in four Americans—70 million people—live in rural America. On average, they are older, poorer, more likely to be uninsured, and suffer from higher rates of chronic health conditions.1

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For the past 15 years, I have lived in south central Missouri, in a small town—population ~12,000 rural Americans. I am a nationally, board certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Colposcopist. In this role I participate by providing primary and specialty health care to rural, underserved and uninsured women who are often the target of Healthy People 2020 indicators. What’s more, the women I care for are not just faces in the crowd. They are my children’s teachers, colleagues’ wives and daughters, the lady who waits on me at the post office, the woman who rings up my groceries, my children’s friends, and my friends’ daughters—all of whom make up our community. It is no surprise, then, that the primary aim of my practice is to improve the health of women and their families. Improving the health of women and their families, in turn, positively impacts the health of our community.

As I listened to nurses such as the Honorable Mary Wakefield and Gail Finley share their thoughts regarding the challenges and opportunities that simultaneously exist as Nursing purposely and strategically moves to make its mark on the improvement of health care in rural America, I could not help but reflect on the numerous barriers which continue to interfere with my ability to practice to the full extent of my education, training, and competence.

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Jun 23 2011
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Third in a Series: "Take Me Home, Country Roads to the Place Where I Belong... and Can Get the Health Care I Need!"

The AARP Solutions Forum: “Advancing Health in Rural America: Maximizing Nursing’s Impact,” was held on June 13. This post is the third in a series in which Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholars share their thoughts on the ideas presented. The author, Laurie Theeke, Ph.D., R.N., is an assistant professor of nursing at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia, and her research emphasizes the development of interventions that target loneliness as a psychosocial stressor that impacts overall health. Find out more about the forum or view the archived webcast.

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I recently had the opportunity to listen to the AARP Solutions Forum, “Advancing Health in Rural America – Maximizing Nursing’s Impact.” I was thrilled to be able to hear about the continuing emphasis on rural health care. As a native of Appalachia, a long-term resident of West Virginia, and a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Gerontology, I often think about how we could better serve our older adults who are living in poverty with limited resources and complex chronic illness.

As I listened, I thought about how attached many of my patients are to rural living in Appalachia. Nearly everybody in the region knows the words to this popular song, “Take me Home, Country Roads” and I kept thinking that it would be wonderful if health care was available and affordable for all rural residents without having to take the long country road back to a more urban area, particularly in the winter months.

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Jun 21 2011
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Second in a Series: What My Grandmother Taught Me

The AARP Solutions Forum: “Advancing Health in Rural America: Maximizing Nursing’s Impact,” was held on June 13. This post is the second in a series in which Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholars, who viewed the forum live, share their thoughts on the ideas presented. The author, Andrea Wallace, R.N., Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the University of Iowa College of Nursing and focuses her research on finding means of improving outcomes for those living with chronic illness, particularly for vulnerable patient populations. Find out more about the forum or view the archived webcast.

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While watching last Monday’s forum, “Advancing Health in Rural America: Maximizing Nursing’s Impact,” I was forced to reflect on how my own early experiences in the frontier west shaped my current passion for quality improvement and implementation science.

At a tender age, I watched my beloved grandmother—who lived on a farm 18 miles of dirt road off a two-lane state highway, 40 miles from a town of 5,000—develop complications from a vascular condition. My family was fortunate in that it didn’t take my parents long to discover the vast differences in the quality of services available in my grandparents’ rural community, compared to those in urban Denver. So, multiple times per year, with the assistance of a large vascular center’s RN case manager, my parents would arrange for her to be seen in Denver, often driving eight hours to make it happen.

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Jun 16 2011
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First in a Series: Necessity is the Mother of Invention and Innovation

The AARP Solutions Forum: “Advancing Health in Rural America: Maximizing Nursing’s Impact,” was held on June 13. This post is the first in a series in which Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholars, who viewed the forum live, share their thoughts on the ideas presented. The author, Tami L. Thomas, Ph.D., C.P.N.P., R.N.C., works with rural populations in Georgia. Find out more about the forum or view the archived webcast.

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When does an invention or innovation occur? According to Dr. Mary Wakefield it occurs with regularity when the best of nursing and best of rural health care merge with the support of national health policy.

The current challenges of rural health care were discussed Monday morning in Washington, D.C., as policy experts, leaders and key stakeholders met to examine how to improve health care in rural America. Growing up in rural America, my childhood memories include long car drives to see physicians or dentists. Access to care for my father’s family on a rural farm was punctuated by the death of his two-year-old sister, my Aunt Marilyn.

The access to health care problems facing my parents and grandparents are not unlike the problems facing the families I work with in my health promotion research in rural areas.

So I was excited and eager to listen to panelists discuss solutions and innovations like cutting-edge rural health models that could make a difference for the families in rural America.

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