This piece originally appeared on the faculty of nursing blog.
The University of Utah College of Nursing Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention Program and Bicknell, Utah Wayne Community Health Center created an educational film, The day in the life of a rural nurseto demonstrate the importance of registered nurses in Utah’s rural primary care community.
Rural populations are significantly affected by health disparities. RuralHealthInfo.org states that rural individuals are more affected by disease and disability, and exhibit higher mortality rates, shorter life expectancies, and increased rates of pain and suffering than their urban counterparts.
Registered nurses (RNs) and health care teams working in rural communities play a vital role in caring for these underserved individuals and families – from birth to end of life, rural RNs provide health services needed by all. However, recruiting and retaining rural RNs is not easy. There is a lack of knowledge and skills related to rural health care and limited pathways for students to enter the field of rural nursing.
“Health care services are often less available in rural settings, so there is a need to prepare new nurses to work in rural settings to continue to meet the needs of rural populations,” said Professor Brenda Luther, PhD, RN at the College of Nursing.
In response, College of Nursing (CON) faculty was awarded a NEPQR (Nurse Education, Practice, Quality, and Retention) grant from the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to meet the growing needs of rural populations in the Utah by providing students and rural RNs with training to work within the full scope of their licenses in rural primary care. NEPQR offers online training modules as part of the CON baccalaureate program, scholarships and travel funds for female nursing students to gain clinical experience in rural primary care, and training for RNs working in rural primary care to precept students and advance their professional roles.
NEPQR has forged a partnership between CON faculty and WCHC to place students in rural clinical experiences while supporting WCHC RNs with training and resources. However, not all students are placed in rural settings for their clinics. How could professors better show students an accurate description of life as a rural nurse without visiting the clinic? Through cinema. If students can imagine themselves working in a rural setting, they are more likely to make it a reality after graduation.
“The day in the life of a rural nurse is an authentic and realistic depiction of rural nursing. For most undergraduate nursing students, understanding the role of a rural nurse during their program is impossible and can be difficult to imagine,” said CON (Clinical) Associate Professor Jennifer Macali, DNP , RN, MPH. “Not only will students have a clear understanding of the wide range of opportunities to serve as a nurse in rural communities, but they will gain a broader perspective of how the health care system is connected across the continuum of care. This video is an invaluable educational tool that has the potential to change the career trajectory of a future nurse.
Josie Moosman, BSN, RN, works at WCHC and stars in the film. She and her team of medical professionals work at the top of their license under the clinic’s team-based model of care and were instrumental in the creation of the film. A rural nurse’s varied day is typical of the profession – all of the roles featured in the film are true to the roles Moosman plays every day. During a shift at the clinic, she can be seen performing a health check, performing an annual wellness visit, organizing a patient’s end-of-life care plan, covering ambulance rides emergency or preparing an emergency patient for helicopter transfer.
Moosman will continue her nursing education by starting CON’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program this fall, which will allow her to provide even more community support as a nurse practitioner.
“I couldn’t show students what it’s like to work in a rural community without the help of Josie and her team at Wayne Community Health Center. We teach students in our classrooms about the challenges facing rural communities and help students learn all the skills needed to help patients and families achieve optimal health and self-care; but we can’t give students all the experience in our usual clinical experiences,” Luther said. “We want nurses to be prepared for rural nursing and want to work in rural settings; this grant and Josie’s team helped us do just that.
Thanks to the NEPQR grant, CON and WCHC now have a long-standing partnership. Through experiential education, WCHC enables CON students to gain experience in rural community nursing, while learning the importance of accessible health care for Utah’s underserved communities. . WCHC and CON have also collaborated in conducting statewide webinars to advocate and educate about the crucial roles of AIs.
“Coming from a rural town myself, I am so grateful that the College of Nursing gave me the opportunity to go to Wayne County for my clinical experiences. It has been a privilege to be part of the community and to be taught by nurses who truly set an example for rural nurses,” said Hunter Robins, BSN, RN, 2020 CON bachelor’s graduate who attended a clinic in the WCHC. “This experience really opened my eyes to what a nurse can be and how effective nursing can be in so many different environments. One of the highlights of my studies at the University of Utah was my time in Wayne County.
The day in the life of a rural nurse aims to build on the current work and partnership of CON and WCHC. As CON students participate in clinical experiences at WCHC or watch the film, they will learn about, and hopefully become, the unique role of a rural nurse.