April 1, 2021
According to a 2017 study
from the National Rural Health Association, people living in rural areas suffer worse health
outcomes than their urban counterparts. They have less access to primary and
preventive care, less longevity, and less chance of surviving a major heart
attack, stroke, or other major health event. In Washington state, more than a
million people—14% of the state's population—live in rural communities.
The UW School of
Nursing is spearheading an effort
to build a Rural Nursing Health Initiative over a four-year period, supporting
20 students each year. The program will create enhanced clinical placements for
advanced practice registered nurse students (APRNs) in rural areas throughout
Washington, as well as build a pipeline for student placements and provider
support, especially critical for rural communities without robust networks.
Premera's investment in and
partnership with the UW School of Nursing is part of a larger Premera program
to improve access to care in rural areas. We’re focusing its investments in the
While the program is led by
the UW, students from Seattle University, Washington State University, Pacific
Lutheran University, Seattle Pacific University, and Gonzaga University will
also be eligible to apply for placements in rural settings and to participate
in the new Rural Health Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Program after graduation.
Additionally, UW nursing faculty will consult alongside Washington State
University nursing faculty to conduct a comprehensive outcomes evaluation
study. Faculty will analyze the data from this study to provide evidence of the
effectiveness of this effort.
"Premera is proud to
support the University of Washington School of Nursing in their efforts to
deliver healthcare to remote and medically underserved communities," said
Jeff Roe, president and CEO. "We know that students who learn in rural
settings are much more likely to return to that community when they graduate.
With the growing disparity between urban and rural healthcare access, it is
critical we invest in sustainable solutions that close that gap."
"I firmly believe that
advanced practice nurses are the answer to providing equitable access to
primary and preventive healthcare in rural and underserved areas, and I believe
the Rural Nursing Health Initiative will prove that out. This grant allows us
to ensure the sustainability of the rural nursing workforce, improving health
outcomes across our communities," said Azita Emami, the Robert G. and Jean
A. Reid endowed executive dean, UW School of Nursing. "It is critical that
this work happens in an academic setting because we have the resources required
to gather the necessary data to evaluate the overall success of this program
and to report the findings in scientific publications."
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