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College of Public Health

National award presented to ETSU rural health program

JOHNSON CITY – The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has bestowed the “Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year” award upon the Community Partnerships for Health Professions Education Program at East Tennessee State University .

The award is among several announced this week during the NRHA's 30 th Annual Conference in Anchorage , Alaska .

“The men, women, and organizations honored here today were selected because of their outstanding contributions, significant achievements, and the innovative methods they use to make rural health care the quality standard,” said NRHA president-elect Paul Moore upon presenting the award.  “The accomplishments among this group are amazing, and each individual here has a unique and inspirational story to tell – one that goes a long way toward eliminating the myth that health care in rural America is anything less than the very best!”

ETSU's Community Partnerships for Health Professions Education Program was originally created through a $6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to establish rural educational partnerships in Johnson and Hawkins counties.  Through the years, the Kellogg model has been sustained and used to form new partnerships with Unicoi, Hancock, Carter, Greene, Cocke, Sevier, Sullivan, and Washington counties, as well as with the regional African-American and Hispanic communities.

Since its inception, more than 500 ETSU students have participated in rural community-based interdisciplinary courses.  The program was initially designed for medical, nursing, and public health students, but opportunities have been expanded to include those from social work, nutrition, environmental health, and psychology.

The students and faculty have helped the communities to identify and address regional health concerns, including childhood obesity, diabetes, cancer, rural disaster preparedness, and youth risk behaviors.Many graduates have remained in these rural communities to practice and have helped to stabilize and to reduce shortages in rural health care systems throughout the region.

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