BATON ROUGE (PRESS RELEASE) – This National Rural Health Day, the Louisiana Department of Health is celebrating student health professionals who are learning about practicing medicine in under-served areas through the Well-Ahead Louisiana Rural Health Scholars program. are learning
is part of the program LDH’s FY 2022 Business Plan Strategy to diversify the state’s health workforce and improve patient experiences. LDH will take this work further FY 2023,
Managed by Well-Ahead Louisiana within the LDH Office of Public Health (OPH), the Rural Health Scholars Program matches students from Louisiana colleges and universities with health facilities to become physician assistants (PAs) or nurse practitioners (NPs). are studying. Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). HPSAs are geographic areas, populations, and facilities with too few primary care physicians, dentists, and mental health providers or services. Over a year 17 scholars were placed at 14 health care sites, one of which had four positions:
- Acadiana Pediatrics, Rayne
- Common Ground Clinic, Gretna
- CommunityHealth Services, Bastrop Pediatric Center
- Family First Medicine, Ruston
- Loranger’s Family Health Service
- Hood Memorial Hospital, Amit
- Iberia Comprehensive Community Health Center, Lafayette
- Lady Of The Sea Medical Clinic, Larose
- Southcare Medical Clinic, Abbeville
- Southeast Community Health System, Independence, Kentwood, Greensburg and Albany
- St James Primary Care Clinic, Gramercy
Well-Ahead has already selected 14 students for year two and is accepting applications until 31 December. To apply for the second year, see Wellaheadla.com/rural-health-scholars-program,
Rural communities are disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes and are less likely to have access to quality healthcare. In Louisiana, 73% of residents live in an area with a shortage of health professionals.
“While rural areas are important to Louisiana, these areas are often underserved in terms of healthcare. We are excited to further expand the Rural Health Scholars program, so that ultimately reduce the percentage of people living in disadvantaged areas and provide greater access to primary care for all Louisiana residents.” This innovative program connects health care students to rural health facilities, increasing access to more Louisiana residents while providing the next generation of health professionals with valuable experience in caring for rural populations.”
“We are proud of the rich heritage and diverse communities in our state,” said Melissa R. Martin, director of Well-Ahead Louisiana. “Through the Rural Health Scholars Program, we have the opportunity to not only demonstrate the impact future health professionals can make in these rural communities, but also share the many benefits of living in Louisiana.”
serving the underprivileged
Students in the Rural Health Scholars Program complete 180 hours of clinical rotations within 90 days in a rural health facility. Participating students receive a stipend and post-graduation job placement assistance.
“I decided to apply to the Rural Health Scholars Program to develop a better understanding of what it is like to practice as a PA in a rural area,” said Brooke Hillman, a Baton Rouge native. (Franyu). “Many people in rural areas do not have access to healthcare, and as a PA I will have the opportunity to improve health care outcomes in my home state of Louisiana.”
Hillman is serving her clinical rotations at Southeast Community Health System’s Kentwood Clinic in Tangipahoa Parish.
“Family Healthcare of Loranger, LLC is proud to partner with the Rural Health Scholars Program. Our first student in the program, Audrey Tallis, is gaining a lot of experience in pediatrics in this rural setting,” Kimberly Manina, FNP-C , said the owner and operator of Tangipahoa Parish Clinic. “The Rural Health Scholars Program is very essential in rural healthcare. Family Healthcare of Loranger, LLC will continue to help bridge the gap in the medical field for under-served and rural areas in Louisiana.
Tallis is a nurse practitioner (NP) student from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans (LSUHSC-NO).
investing in louisiana
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing at LSUHSC New Orleans Dr. According to Leanne Fowler, the program is a worthwhile investment for the school’s NP students and Louisiana.
“Clinical placement for nurse practitioner students is a challenge for programs nationwide. To sustain high-quality NP student clinical education, clinical placement among populations is essential to their development, in the workforce change and trust with underserved communities,” said Dr. Fowler. “Supporting NP students with clinical placements and financial assistance during the most meaningful times during their development as NPs is an investment that benefits Louisiana citizens and The kingdom of communities will bear fruit for years to come.”
“With the mission of the Louisiana Department of Health and Franu’s commitment to serving the community in areas of need, the Physician Assistant Program at Franu sees this as an ideal partnership. Having been named by BRAC as a top provider of health professionals in the Capital Region, we are pleased to expand our reach of service to rural parts of the state. We look forward to all that we will be able to serve by working together,” said Michael McIntosh, PA-C, DSCPA, clinical coordinator of the Franu Physician Assistant Program.
“I am thrilled to see the department making efforts to provide essential and qualified healthcare services to residents in areas with a shortage of healthcare professionals. This program creates a great opportunity to build partnerships between rural, underserved communities and colleges while providing residents with more equitable access to healthcare,” said State Representative Francis Thompson, D-Delhi.
Well-Ahead Louisiana is the chronic disease prevention and healthcare access arm of the Louisiana Department of Health. Well-Ahead connects communities with tools and resources that help improve the health of Louisiana residents where they live, work, learn, play and pray. visit for more information www.wellaheadla.com.