Report shows growth, but more effort needed to build Nebraska rural health workers – UNK News


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Author: JOHN KEENAN
UNMC Strategic Communications

A 2022 report by health workers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center shows that the number of nurses in Nebraska has increased significantly and the number of pharmacists working since 2020 has increased slightly. care professionals, and the aging of health care workers is threatening to exacerbate the current shortage across multiple disciplines.

This and some of the key findings of the study are reflected in the report “Nebraska Healthcare Worker Status: A 2022 Update.”

“When health professionals work in rural areas, they help provide quality health care as close to home as possible. But they also create economic sustainability and vitality in the communities in which they live, ”said Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, Chancellor of the United Nations. “The need has never been clearer: we need to increase access to the Nebraska rural health care pipeline to improve the quality of life for all of our communities, support economic sustainability, and strengthen the number of health care professionals in the coming decades.”

Research commissioned and funded by the Office of Rural Health Initiatives and the Nebraska Area Health Education Center Program (AHEC) has used the latest data from the UNMC Health Care Monitoring Service and the state of Nebraska. The report acknowledges that the pandemic has had a continuing impact on health care workers and that the shortage has increased since the data were collected.

Research has shown that roadmaps are important in proactively addressing current and expected shortcomings in rural areas and underserved communities, and that hiring and training students from rural and underserved areas and training as close to these communities as possible is a proven strategy. it is likely to return to these areas in practice.

Dr. Andy Craig, a family medicine practitioner in Minden and a graduate of UNMC’s ​​KHOP road program, said it is important to identify and target students who want to participate in rural health care. “Students who want to grow up in the fields and stay in the countryside.”

He noted the efforts to expand medical education at the University of Nebraska on the Kearney campus as an important step in addressing rural health workers and access problems.

The new Rural Health Education Building will provide an opportunity to learn and train more students from a variety of health fields on the UNK campus.
The new Rural Health Education Building will provide an opportunity to learn and train more students from a variety of health fields on the UNK campus.

Nicole Carritt, director of the UNMC Office for Rural Health Initiatives, said the Pathway program has helped Nebraska.

“Nearly 60% of the more than 700 graduates of UNMC’s ​​Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP) and Kearney Health Opportunities Program (KHOP) are practicing in rural Nebraska,” Carritt said.

He added that the latest funding from the Nebraska Legislature, including funding from the Healthier Rural Nebraska initiative, is a project that will expand the UNMC’s ​​UNMC health care program to improve those rural training opportunities.

However, challenges remain. One of the main areas of concern identified in the report is the aging of health workers in Nebraska. Retirement of nebraska dentists (26.9%), licensed practical nurses (20.6%), podiatrists (20%), doctors (19.4%), optometrists (18.6%) and registered nurses (17.2%) they are in the previous age group. You may be at risk of leaving the work team for 61 years or more and for the next five to 10 years. With the effects of the pandemic on the number of employees that have not yet been studied, the need for innovation to promote rural health workers has increased.

“The number of dental health professionals has been declining since 2019,” Carritt said. “Thirteen of the 93 counties in Nebraska do not have a primary care physician, and 16 counties do not have a pharmacist.”

Based on these findings, the report’s recommendations included improving existing pipeline programs and educational initiatives.

“We need to encourage people in rural areas and sparsely populated areas to become health professionals and work in health care in those communities, especially in health professions that are severely deficient,” Carritt said. “With the latest support from the legislature, the UNMC is positioning itself to continue to provide solutions to these challenges.”

The report looked at 20 primary care professions in health care, from doctors and medical assistants to nursing, dental and health professionals. It also analyzed the sex, age, race, and ethnicity of each health care professional, and measured the number and rate of health care professionals per 100,000 population by region.



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