There’s not a typical day in rural nursing. “You never quite know what’s coming,” says Josie Moosman, a U College of Nursing student and nurse at the Wayne Community Health Center in Bicknell, Utah, population 330. In one shift, she may do a well-baby checkup, arrange a patient’s end-of-life care plan, cover ambulance rides, or prepare an emergency patient for a helicopter transfer. “It’s very dynamic,” she notes. “We really do work at the top of our licensure.”
Rural populations are significantly impacted by health disparity, experiencing higher rates of disease and disability and lower life expectancy than their urban counterparts. Registered nurses who work in rural communities play a paramount role in caring for these underserved individuals and families.
However, it’s not easy to recruit and retain rural RNs. There’s a knowledge and skill gap related to rural health care, and limited pathways for students to enter the field of rural nursing.
To address the growing health care needs of Utah’s rural populations, the U’s College of Nursing obtained a Nurse Education, Practice, Quality, and Retention (NEPQR) grant. NEPQR provides online training modules, scholarships, and travel funding for student nurses to gain experience in rural clinics like those of the Wayne Community Health Center. In turn, the center’s RNs receive training and resources.
“We want nurses to be prepared for rural nursing and want to work in rural settings,” says Brenda Luther MS’99 PhD’10, a professor of nursing at the U.
For her part, Moosman says, “It’s extremely rewarding to be a nurse in rural health care. You’re treating people you know and you love.” She is continuing her nursing education in the U’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program—allowing her to provide even more community support as a nurse practitioner.