Collaboration, culture and communication: Preparing the next generation to provide rural primary health care

Tami L. Thomas, Michelle Caldera, Derrick Glymph


Background and objective: In an ever-changing landscape of health care needs and demands, the ability to provide care for rural communities is often overwhelming. Rural health care in a new decade demands targeted programs to improve recruitment, training, and sustained employment of primary care providers. This project served to address rural primary healthcare needs by the development of a project model to recruit, train, educate and evaluate Advanced Practice Registered Nurse students (APRN) students who were rigorously selected for a rural traineeship and practiced in rural counties. The evaluation of preceptors was also done to assist in retention and increased numbers of rural preceptors and clinical sites. This program was designed collaboratively and implemented with rural community partners and rural healthcare leaders.

Methods: Graduate nursing students completed both a paper application and in person interviews to be selected for a rigorous 16-week clinical traineeship in the rural communities. Qualitative data were collected during interview and feedback sessions during their traineeship. Quantitative Data were collected on Process and Outcome Measures focused on learning objectives during their rural traineeship. These data were analyzed and evaluated to measure the effectiveness of program goals, outcomes, and sustainability of the program. 

Results and conclusions: The results support the structured process for selecting graduate students and with an innovative program design focused on rural culture and accessing resources for patients in these same rural areas. Both students and preceptors had improved performance and satisfaction over time. The results provide a road map to recreate programs with high clinical impact and increasing numbers of rural healthcare providers. Current follow-up data with APRN post program completion demonstrated increase in employment within rural areas post-graduation.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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