medical students

A Colorado program includes scholarships for medical students who commit to working in a rural or frontier county for at least two years after completing their education and training.

Happy National Rural Health Day!

By Sarah Jaromin | Nov. 17, 2022 | State Legislatures News | Print

Today is National Rural Health Day, an annual celebration that recognizes the ingenuity, resilience and strength of rural communities. Held on the third Thursday of every November, National Rural Health Day aims to engage policymakers, program funders, practitioners and others by inspiring action, drawing attention to the unique challenges facing rural communities and promoting policy innovations that can make rural America healthier.

National Rural Health Day recognizes the ingenuity, resilience and strength of rural communities, where 1 in 5 Americans live.

Policymakers continue to pursue and implement solutions to improve the lives of the 1 in 5 Americans who live in rural areas. Policies often focus on ensuring the availability and viability of rural health care facilities, including rural emergency hospitals; recruiting and retaining the health care workforce; optimizing health information technology and telehealth; addressing rural health disparities; maintaining emergency medical services; and improving overall access to care.

States have used a variety of approaches to increase access to care in rural communities:

Nebraska licenses rural emergency hospitals and requires coverage for related services. Rural emergency hospital is a new Medicare provider designation established by Congress to reinforce access to outpatient medical services and reduce health disparities in areas that may not be able to sustain a full-service hospital. More information and state actions can be found on NCSL’s website.

The Colorado Rural Health Care Workforce Initiative aims to expand the number of health care professionals practicing in rural or frontier counties (those with a population density of fewer than six people per square mile) by adding rural tracks to health care professional education programs. Programs will include scholarships for students who commit to working in a rural or frontier county for at least two years after completing their education and training.

Since it was developed in 2000, the Nurse Licensure Compact has allowed nurses licensed in one participating state to practice in other compact states. As of 2022, 35 states have joined the compact. Ohio and Pennsylvania passed legislation in the last two sessions to join in the future, and at least four more states are exploring the possibility of joining. Find more information about interstate compacts in this NCSL resource.

Visit the National Rural Health Day webpage to find ways to celebrate National Rural Health Day in your community. To learn more about what states are doing to improve rural health, NCSL offers a variety of rural health resources.

Sarah Jaromin is a policy analyst in NCSL’s health program.

This resource is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of an award totaling $813,543, with 100% funded by HRSA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. government.

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