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UW establishes program to provide medical care in rural areas statewide

The University of Washington said 14% of the state's population lives in rural areas. Those areas have less access to primary and preventative care.

SEATTLE — The University of Washington received a $4.7 million grant to establish a program that places current nursing students in rural practices across the state.

According to a 2017 study from the National Rural Health Association, "people living in rural areas suffer worse health outcomes than their urban counterparts."

The University of Washington said this population has less access to primary and preventive care and a lesser chance of surviving a major stroke or heart attack.

To combat this issue, the UW School of Nursing will spearhead an effort to build the Rural Nursing Health Initiative over a four-year period that would support 20 students a year. 

The program will create "enhanced clinical placements" for advanced practice registered nurse students in rural areas throughout Washington.

In Washington state, more than a million people, or 14% of the state’s population, live in rural communities, according to UW. 

The program is led by UW but students from Seattle University, Washington State University, Pacific Lutheran Univerisity, Seattle Pacific University and Gonzaga University will be able to apply for placements in the program and can apply for the Rural Health Nurse Practitioner Fellowship after graduation. 

The grant was funded by Premera Blue Cross. 

“I firmly believe that advanced practice nurses are the answer to providing equitable access to primary and preventive health care in rural and underserved areas, and I believe the Rural Nursing Health Initiative will prove that out. This grant allows us to ensure the sustainability of the rural nursing workforce, improving health outcomes across our communities,” said Azita Emami, executive dean, UW School of Nursing. “It is critical that this work happens in an academic setting because we have the resources required to gather the necessary data to evaluate the overall success of this program and to report the findings in scientific publications.”