Program Description

The APRN Rural and Underserved Roadmap to Advance Leadership (RURAL) Scholars Program provides each student receiving traineeship funds with:

  • 1-2 semesters of clinical placement in rural communities through our clinical partner ECU Health.
  • Training in telehealth with a focus on telepsychiatry through the ECU Center for Telepsychiatry and Behavioral Health
  • Opportunities for improving the health of rural families including farmers, loggers, and fishermen and their families through the NCAI and other professional and community collaborators.

APRN RURAL Scholars will commit to two years of service in a rural and/or underserved community in return for traineeship support. Full-time students are eligible for traineeship support in the amount of $22,000 and part-time students will receive $11,000. Payment is contingent upon the completion of all program activities. Participants in the APRN RURAL Scholars program will be recognized at the ECUCON graduation ceremony for their participation in the program.

The APRN RURAL Scholars Program activities are summarized below.

Primary Care in Rural Health Immersion

Primary Care Clinical Practicum: NP, NM, and CNS students are placed in ECU Health rural clinics and other healthcare facilities in rural and underserved communities for two semesters (NP, NM) and 1 semester (CNS) per academic year.

MPH 6036 Fundamentals in Agromedicine: This 3-semester hour course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the fundamentals health and public health issues affecting agricultural populations in the U.S. and North Carolina. Course activities include a field trip to a local farm to see firsthand the numerous safety hazards farmworkers encounter daily. A farm tour reflection paper, special risk populations in agriculture literature review paper, and final examination is required for the course. This course is offered fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Telehealth Experiences: NP, NM, and CNS students will participate once per semester in telehealth collaborative experiences during the fall and spring semesters. Two-hour instructional webinars are offered each semester in addition to one clinical experience per academic year.

Purple and Golden Bus Tour: NP, NM, and CNS students participate in the ECU Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement Purple and Golden Bus Tour. This bus tour was designed to introduce faculty members with identified research plans to the culture, geography, heritage, economy, and assets of the communities of Eastern NC (ENC). Grant funding has allowed for expanding this opportunity to APRN RURAL Scholars. Students participate in this bus trip at least once during their program.

EAHEC Rural Health Symposium: The overall objectives of the symposium are: rural health priorities, building leadership capacity, promoting effective rural health initiatives in ENC, addressing common health challenges and health disparities related to the aging population, military and veterans’ health, mental health, oral health, school health, health literacy, and the impact of environmental health. The symposium also presents workforce strategies to increase the number of healthcare professionals in ENC. Students and preceptors receive funding to attend this annual symposium.

Simulated Patient Care Experiences: Standardized patient objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) experiences that include Native American rural residents, African American farmers, Latinx farm workers, and elderly farmers are offered to NP, NM, and CNS students in collaboration with the ECU Office of Clinical Skills and Assessment Education.

Leadership in Rural Health

Innovation Lab: Primary Care in Rural Communities: In this half-day session, we bring together legislators, healthcare administrators, primary care providers, and healthcare consumers in rural communities to explore new tools and methodologies for addressing the primary care healthcare needs of rural communities in Eastern NC. This Lab is offered annually during the on-campus immersion.

Public Speaking Training: In collaboration with the ECU School of Communication, this 2-hour session prepares students for professional public speaking. Topics include working through communication anxiety, organizing an effective presentation, and professional communication. The session is offered during the on-campus immersion. Following this session, students will develop a brief educational video targeted toward healthcare consumers.

Assessment of Rural Communities

The Rural Community Assessment project provides a snapshot of local policy, systems, and environmental strategies currently in place. With this data, strategies are proposed to increase the number and capacity of APRN primary care providers that will result in sustainable changes. The intent of this project is to build upon existing community assessments conducted within the students’ clinical practicum communities by articulating how the students’ proposed role after graduation could address the community’s identified priorities. The assessment incorporates evidence-based strategies in plans for interventions.

Professional Networking/Preparation for Transition to Practice

NP, NM, and CNS students will create an account and profile in the HRSA Health Workforce Connector and apply for an NPI number. Expectations for this experience are that students will create a report of opportunities available for their respective professions in rural and underserved communities in NC.

NP, NM, and CNS students will attend at least one professional association meeting. Expectations for this experience are that students complete a create “speed dating” form that documents the names, titles, places of employment, email addresses, and signatures of at least 5 APRNs at the professional meeting.