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Today is National Rural Health Day

November 16, 2017

One in three Veterans who rely on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for health care call a rural community home. Today marks the seventh annual National Rural Health Day – an opportunity to recognize those Veterans who thrive in rural areas as well as the dedicated health workforce that supports them.

Rural Veterans enjoy less traffic, lower cost of living and greater connection to their communities. However, rural health care provider shortages and geographic barriers continue to pose healthcare access challenges. There are more than 10,000 rural Health Professional Shortage Areas across the country – about twice as many than in non-rural areas – leaving both rural Veterans and providers without crucial primary or specialty health care support.

The Office of Rural Health (ORH) identifies and supports innovative solutions to address these challenges. In fiscal year 2017 alone, seven of ORH’s Enterprise-Wide Initiatives provided training to rural health care teams, serving 51 VA medical sites nationwide. These initiatives combine in-person and virtual training to boost local providers’ skills in relevant specialty fields such as geriatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry. Through targeted training, trusted local clinicians fill specialty care gaps and better address the unique needs of the Veterans they serve.

The following programs have bolstered workforce development year after year and collectively trained almost 3,000 clinicians and staff in 2017:

The Geriatric Scholars Program addresses geriatrician shortages through targeted education for rural health care providers, clinical pharmacists, social workers and psychologists. This initiative incorporates educational courses, virtual mentoring by specialists and clinical training exercises to increase geriatric care expertise throughout the local care team.

Clinical Skills Training in Women Veterans Health Care addresses the women’s health shortage across rural VA facilities. Rural clinicians who participate receive onsite education from a virtual training team in order to provide fundamental women’s care to Veterans.<

Simulation Learning, Education, and Research Network Rural Coordinators program provides a simulation-based training infrastructure to enable rural clinicians to improve their technical skills without leaving their rural VA facility.

In addition to these training-based solutions, other means to tackle the rural health care provider shortages include:

  • Better promoting rural-specific financial assistance or loan forgiveness programs: Many recent medical or nursing school graduates face significant loan burdens. Developing and highlighting rural-specific financial assistance or loan forgiveness programs can help encourage young talent to pursue a career in rural communities.
  • Increasing cooperation and coordination between community-based providers and VA medical facilities: Sharing resources, from patient data to high-demand specialist providers, will help satisfy unmet patient needs and expedite the delivery of care.
  • Enhance recruitment at the community level: Providers tend to practice in the type of community in which they were born. Improving recruitment at the community level – as early as the high school years – can help both VA and community providers establish a skilled and committed local health care workforce.

This National Rural Health Day, ORH asks you to think about how your work can improve a rural Veteran’s access to health care. To learn more about how to recognize National Rural Health Day, join the conversation online with #PowerOfRural and visit to get information on ORH’s mission and programs.

Missouri Telehealth Summit

November 16, 2017

Fourth Annual Missouri Telehealth Summit

The Fourth Annual Missouri Telehealth Summit will take place January 31 & February 1, 2018, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in Jefferson City, Missouri.

As always, this summit brings together providers, payers, and policy-makers. Our keynote speaker is Yulun Wang, the founder and CIO of InTouch Health.  We are highlighting rural hospital telehealth financial barriers and incentives and how telehealth improves access and capacity for care.  We will have a legislative and regulatory panel and an evidence panel.

We are asking for poster submissions to display during the summit.  And we are asking for volunteers to provide a 3-5 minute description of your ‘cool’ telehealth project!

Also, new this year, we will have an exhibit hall so that you can interact with telehealth vendors and a Pre-Summit Workshop, Telehealth 101, on January 31, 2018.

Link to Missouri Telehealth Summit Web Page for registration:

Poster submissions: Please e-mail
Rachel Mutrux,
Deepika Gupta,
Mirna Becevic,

Cool telehealth projects: Please e-mail
Rachel Mutrux,
Lindsey Beckmann,


November 16, 2017

View the news bulletin.

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

November 16, 2017

What’s New

Mapping Opioid Overdose in Real Time.  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) developed a smart phone application that can be used to track drug overdose deaths in real time.  Since its creation over a year ago, more than 250 law enforcement, first responders and public health agencies in 27 states have used the tool to record overdose incidents on the scene and transmit information to a central database tracking location and time. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that rates of drug overdose deaths are higher in rural areas than urban.  Beginning at 1:30 pm ET on Thursday, federal partners will join our office in a panel discussion on the opioid epidemic as part of National Rural Health Day activities.

Funding Opportunities

Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program – December 6.  Up to 25 rural public and nonprofit entities forming a consortium of three or more organizations will be awarded total funding of $5 million/year to expand health care services into underserved areas.   This unique program administered by FORHP allows communities to determine their most pressing health need and the best approach for addressing them. Applicants may apply for the traditional Outreach Program track addressing a health need specific to their community, or they may apply to a newly created track,  the Health Improvement Special Project (HISP) focusing on cardiovascular disease risk. HISP applicants will be required to meet certain requisites as outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity and, if awarded, will utilize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Heart Age Calculator to assess cardiovascular disease risk and track the same subset of individuals in their community throughout the 3-year project period. You can learn more about the work of our Outreach Program grantees on the Rural Health Information Hub, which includes videos of current and past work.  For more information, please contact Meriam Mikre at

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Thousands of Primary Care Positions Nationwide!

November 16, 2017

Tuesday, November 28
6:45 – 10:15 p.m. ET

As valued partners of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and NURSE Corps, please encourage clinicians, students, and residents to participate in the upcoming November Virtual Job Fair to connect and network with prospective employers.

The Virtual Job Fairs are online recruitment events that connect primary care job seekers with health care organizations located in underserved communities nationwide.

At no cost, clinicians, students, and residents can join the Virtual Job Fair to network with prospective employers. They will be presented nearly thousands open positions, hear details about relocation, benefit packages, and populations served.

Our presenters are looking for job seekers in primary, dental and mental and behavioral health care now!

Encourage clinicians, students and residents to register today for the November Virtual Job Fair!

Questions? Contact us at

To search additional job vacancies, check out the Health Workforce Connector.

Rural Health Information Hub

November 15, 2017

View the Rural Health Information Hub updates.

Rural Health Research & Policy Centers

November 15, 2017

View the Research Alert.