SP Baghel: Medical education in India going through its golden era, says Union Minister SP Baghel

Medical education in India is going through its golden era, Union Minister of State for Health SP Baghel said Thursday, asserting that doctors trained here are highly valued globally and one will find an Indian doctor in every part of the world. Addressing the 42nd Foundation Day of the National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences (NBEMS), he said healthcare workers have played a major role in enhancing the perception of India as a global powerhouse.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, delivering the keynote address at the event, said in the last two years 25 courses have been introduced.

“This growth serves to provide greater opportunities for medical students and India is able to garner the best health services and expert doctors, serving to fulfill the nation’s requirements leading to a healthier society and healthier nation,” he said.

Reiterating that the medical sector plays a paramount role in the country’s development, Mandaviya urged students to commit to contributing and shaping India into a developed nation.

Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of “One Earth, One Family, One Future”, Baghel said, “It inspires us to strive not just for a healthy India but for a healthier world aligned with the motto of ‘One Earth, One Health’ .”

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Medical education in India is going through its golden era, he said and asserted that Indian doctors are valued so much that one will find an Indian doctor in service in every part of the globe. Baghel termed the Ayushman Bharat Health Account card as one of the greatest developments India has seen since Independence, enabling healthcare services to reach the most remote areas and benefit the marginalized communities. Addressing the gathering, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul praised the growth and development of medical education and institutions, highlighting their transformation in the last eight years.

“This is a transformative time for medical education due to initiatives introduced in the system,” he said, adding medical graduate seats have increased over three times.

Paul also cited the National Medical Commission as a new regulator, the introduction of NEET and the District Regency Program mandating all second-year post-graduate students to serve in district hospitals for three months each.

SU Announces New Health Education Minor for Fall 2023 – Thursday January 12, 2023

Thursday January 12, 2023

SALISBURY, MD—As the need for health educators across Maryland grows due to new high school diploma requirements, a new minor at Salisbury University will help produce more teachers qualified in health studies.

Scheduled to begin in fall 2023, the health education minor is geared toward education majors outside of public health fields to supplement knowledge needed to pass the P-12 Praxis II exam in health content certification.

“The minor complements any program of study, allowing students to pursue their interests in areas such as disease prevention, sexual health, public health policy, epidemiology, health communication and social determinants of health,” said Dr. Brandye Nobiling, associate professor and Public Health Program director. “Our goal is to prepare future educators across disciplines who want to incorporate the foundations of health education and health behavior in their classrooms.”

Courses in the minor are pre-existing from areas across the College of Health and Human Services.

“The minor is very flexible to tailor to students’ interests and career goals while also filling a need across the state for more health teachers,” said Nobiling.

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at www.salisbury.edu.

Public health education can promote health equity, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Prof. Sanjay ZodpeyPresident, PHFI speaks to ETHealthworld’s Prathiba Raju on the importance and need to strengthen India’s public health institutions. Emphasizing a wide array of learning opportunities that include master’s level programs in public health and in hospital administration and their contribution towards creating trained manpower that can support the expanding activities in the public health space.

As the new president of PHFI, what would be your focus? What transformational change would you like to bring in?

Public health programs and policies are instruments for assuring the health of citizens. A healthy population has higher work productivity and provides an opportunity to fulfill individual and societal aspirations. The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) will continue to work closely on public health issues of concern for India. The Indian health system, particularly the public sector has demonstrated great resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that efficient and effective health systems, driven by robust and contextual evidence, and guided by equity principles will ensure further health improvements. PHFI will support the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the state health departments in advancing initiatives in health and sustainable development.

How does PHFI contribute to the public health education space, particularly the various Indian Institutes of Public Health (IIPH) located in different states? How are these IIPHs helping in the public health management space?

PHFI has a vision to strengthen India’s public health institutions and systems capability and provide knowledge to achieve better health outcomes for all. A thrust on public health education through its network of Indian Institutes of Public Health (IIPH) located in states aligns with our vision and mission. The IIPHs in their pursuit of academic excellence, value-based education and providing a conducive environment for overall skill development strive to create a public health workforce that responds to the felt needs of the country. A wide array of learning opportunities that include master’s level programs in public health and in hospital administration are contributing towards creating trained manpower that can support the expanding activities in the public health space.

What kind of changes are needed in the public health programs, which are being offered in India? Is there a need for a standard curriculum to exist in the country when it comes to public health?

The MoHFW designed and published a model Master of Public Health (MPH) course curriculum in 2017-18. The curriculum model is competency-driven, aligned to the needs of India and has a strong focus on public health skills. The Ministry has also taken several efforts in developing such model curriculum in allied and healthcare streams. These are excellent efforts that guide institutions in their efforts. Overall, educational institutions have to produce graduates with the necessary skills and competencies for addressing current and future health challenges.

What are your thoughts on imparting medical education in vernacular languages, as many doctors have criticized the move?

I believe that the purpose of all education and training is to transform individuals for greater individual and societal good. Medical education at its core is a contribution to the greater societal good. In principle, knowledge acquisition is independent of the language of instruction. India has experience of several excellent degree programs and graduates, beyond medicine, in vernacular languages. Medicine has traditionally been offered in English and accordingly, there is access to a wide body of medical books and literature. A transition to vernacular languages ​​may have some immediate short-term challenges in designing learning materials in the vernacular languages. This challenge can be overcome with systematic efforts at the state level to develop high-quality materials in a timely manner. This effort to develop high-quality materials will have to be state-led and undertaken regularly to keep pace with the development of new interventions and therapies.

What kind of impact do you think COVID-19 has brought to the area of ​​policy development in the public healthcare space? Tell us about the approach of PHFI on infectious diseases, epidemiology and how as a nation we should prepare for future pandemics and health security.

COVID-19 reminded the world that we must collaboratively evolve a coordinated response to health challenges. India demonstrated to the world that we can effectively manage the health challenges posed by the pandemic, produced potent vaccines and more importantly, calibrated a coherent response that evolved with the magnitude of the challenge over the past two years. We have provided our population with a digital vaccination certificate at a scale that is unparalleled in the world. This is a matter of pride for all citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of the central role of the public health system, in detection, management and service delivery. The IDSP of the Government is sensitive to the evolving needs and under the oversight of the Ministry is geared up for training district epidemiologists and surveillance teams.

PHFI works very closely with the national and state governments. During the COVID times also, we contributed technically and on the ground through our institutional network. Going forward, we are planning to establish a dedicated multidisciplinary team to work on infectious disease epidemiology and the economic consequences of such diseases to highlight the need for pandemic preparedness and health security.

With rising zoonotic diseases like COVID-19, and monkeypox how do you look at One-health? What kind of surveillance strategies should be implemented?

Human health is influenced by multiple factors which are outside the conventional health sector. An excellent example is the provision of water, sanitation and education. Similarly, there is now a clear acknowledgment that the health of people, animals and the environment are interrelated. One-health integrates these ideas to address root causes. Surveillance systems will have to eventually keep pace globally within the larger One-health framework. This will require greater coordination between relevant departments and operational clarity at the state and district levels.

How has 2022 been for the healthcare industry and what transformations should we see in 2023?

The recent pandemic has reminded us that we must invest in primary healthcare systems. We need prompt diagnosis with laboratory support, timely referral transport and state-of-the-art clinical care. The healthcare sector will have to build these services on the background of a sufficient and skilled workforce. We learned about the potential of digital health and its ability to transform last-mile access. We can witness accelerated growth in the vaccines and biologicals market in addition to our dominance in medicinal products. The potential of yoga in holistic health is also increasing and we are likely to see it emerge as a global phenomenon in the next decade.

  • Published On Dec 5, 2022 at 05:00 PM IST

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Center to rename National Health Mission as PM Samagra Swasthya Mission | India News

The Center is set to rename the National Health Mission as Pradhan Mantri-Samagra Swasthya Mission (PM-SSM).

An announcement to this effect is expected to be made during the meeting of the Central Council of Health and Family Welfare (CCHFW) that will meet under the chairmanship of Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya at Dehradun on Friday.

The CCHFW is an apex advisory body set up under Article 263 of the Constitution to provide support and advice to the Department of Health on policy formulation and to consider and recommend broad lines of policy in regard to matters concerning health. The health ministers of states are members of the CCHFW. The meeting of the CCHFW is part of the two-day Chintan Shivir organized by the Union Health Ministry on July 14-15.

According to a source, the Mission Steering Group (MSG), which is headed by the Union Health Minister, has already approved the renaming of the NHM as the PM-SSM. The MSG is the highest policy making and steering institution constituted under the NHM.

The NHM was launched as National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) by the then Manmohan Singh government in 2005. This was one of the flagship programs of the then UPA government. In 2013, the Center included the urban component in the mission. Last year, the Center had decided to extend the NHM until March 2026, with an overall allocation of Rs 2.75 lakh crore. While the NHM was focused on primary and secondary care, the PM-SSM is aimed at developing tertiary care capacities at the district hospital level.

Festive offers

During the two-day Chintan Shivir, issues like medical, nursing and allied health education, National Organ Transplant Program and District Residency Program are expected to be discussed. Besides, a session on Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and Sickle Cell Disease is also planned.

Schools ill-equipped to provide healthy and inclusive learning environments for all children – UNICEF, WHO

Despite a steady decline in the proportion of schools without basic water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services, deep inequalities persist between and within countries, UNICEF and WHO said today. Schoolchildren in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and fragile contexts are the most affected, and emerging data shows that few schools have disability-accessible WASH services.

“Far too many children go to school without safe drinking water, clean toilets, and soap for handwashing—making learning difficult,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF Director of Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Climate, Environment, Energy, and Disaster Risk Reduction . “The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of providing healthy and inclusive learning environments. To protect children’s education, the road to recovery must include equipping schools with the most basic services to fight infectious diseases today and in the future.”

“Access to water, sanitation and hygiene is not only essential for effective infection prevention and control, but also a prerequisite for children’s health, development and well-being,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health . “Schools should be settings where children thrive and not be subjected to hardship or infections due to lack of, or poorly maintained, basic infrastructure.”

Schools play a critical role in promoting the formation of healthy habits and behavior, yet many still lack basic WASH services in 2021. According to the latest data from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP):

  • Globally, 29 per cent of schools still lack basic drinking water services, impacting 546 million schoolchildren; 28 per cent of schools still lack basic sanitation services, impacting 539 million schoolchildren; and 42 per cent of schools still do not have basic hygiene services, impacting 802 million schoolchildren.
  • One-third of children without basic services at their school live in LDCs, and over half live in fragile contexts.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania are the only two regions where coverage of basic sanitation and hygiene services in schools remains below 50 per cent; sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where coverage of basic drinking water services in schools remains below 50 per cent.
  • Achieving universal coverage in schools globally by 2030 requires a 14-fold increase in current rates of progress on basic drinking water, a three-fold increase in rates of progress on basic sanitation, and a five-fold increase in basic hygiene services.
  • In LDCs and fragile contexts, achieving universal coverage of basic sanitation services in schools by 2030 would require over 100-fold and 50-fold increases in respective current rates of progress.

Improving pandemic preparedness and response will require more frequent monitoring of WASH and other elements of infection prevention and control (IPC) in schools, including cleaning, disinfection and solid waste management.

Providing disability-accessible WASH services in schools is key to achieving inclusive learning for all children. Still, only a limited number of countries report on this indicator and national definitions vary, and far fewer provide disability-accessible WASH.

  • Emerging national data shows that disability-accessible WASH coverage is low and varies widely between school levels and urban and rural locations, with schools more likely to have accessible drinking water than accessible sanitation or hygiene.
  • In half the countries with data available, less than a quarter of schools have disability-accessible toilets. For example, in Yemen, 8 in 10 schools have toilets, but only 1 in 50 schools have disability-accessible toilets.
  • In most countries with data, schools were more likely to have adapted infrastructure and materials – such as ramps, assistive technology, learning materials – than disability-accessible toilets. For example, in El Salvador, 2 in 5 schools have adapted infrastructure and materials, but only 1 in 20 have disability-accessible toilets.

Notes to editors:

Read the WHO/UNICEF JMP 2022 Data Update on WASH in schools and download the data here.

Read more about the WHO/UNICEF JMP here.

Download multimedia content here.


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube

About WHO

Dedicated to the well-being of all people and guided by science, the World Health Organization leads and champions global efforts to give everyone, everywhere an equal chance at a safe and healthy life. We are the UN agency for health that connects nations, partners and people on the front lines in 150+ locations – leading the world’s response to health emergencies, preventing disease, addressing the root causes of health issues and expanding access to medicines and health care. Our mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

For more information about WHO and its work, visit www.who.int

Follow WHO on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch

For more information, please contact:

Sara Alhattab, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 917 957 6536, [email protected]

WHO Media Team: E-mail: [email protected]

Public Health Skills Fairfield University News

Public health professionals strive to make positive changes that impact everyone in their communities. Considering the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities, public health is critical to the well-being of society at large.

Because of we’ve seen drastic improvements related to vaccine-preventable diseases, maternal and infant health, tobacco control, motor vehicle safety, cancer prevention, and just about everything in between.

If you’re eager to build a career that makes a difference in the lives of others, this field could be the one for you. Read on to learn about the public health skills you’ll need to master.

7 Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals

To be effective in this field, public health officials must maintain a dynamic balance of hard and soft skills. In fact, the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice has developed a framework outlining the core competencies public health professionals need.

Those who have their sights set on a thriving career in this field should focus on honing the following set of public health skills:

1. Data analytics and assessment skills

The collection and assessment of data is a fundamental element of public health work. In fact, assessment is considered one of the three core functions of public health. Analysis of information helps officials learn crucial information about a community’s current health status, needs, and challenges.

A skilled public health professional will know how to collect, analyze, manage, and apply quantitative and qualitative data to assess community health status. This requires an ability to not only interpret but also comprehensively describe factors that affect the health of a community.

2. Policy development and program planning skills

Another core function of public health is policy development. By conducting policy analyses, developing key community partnerships, and helping to promote and implement evidence-based interventions, public health professionals are able to strengthen, support, and mobilize communities to improve environmental health.

In addition to extensive policy-related research duties, professionals working in public policy are also expected to engage in strategic organizational and community planning, continually evaluating existing policies, programs, and services.

3. Communication skills

While many public health careers operate behind the scenes to improve environmental health, some are called upon to communicate strategies and recommendations to the public. This involves facilitating communication among individuals, groups, and organizations.

Strong communication skills are particularly necessary for public health officials tasked with responding to information, misinformation, and disinformation. When it comes to community health measures, people and organizations need their questions answered with responses that are clear, concise, and educational.

4. Health equity skills

Part of ensuring that adequate healthcare services are available to community members is focusing on health equity. Achieving health equity is reaching a state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health.

The goal of eliminating preventable health disparities requires professionals who are able to recognize the diversity of individuals and populations while also engaging in continuous self-reflection about one’s biases. In order to reduce systemic and structural barriers that perpetuate health inequities, public health officials must apply principles of ethics, diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in all they do.

5. Community partnership skills

One of the keys to effective public health is community partnerships. In fact, without this, many public health efforts would completely fail to thrive. Professionals in this realm actively engage with community organizations and citizens in their programs and activities.

Such partnerships are crucial in generating collective interest and action, building community engagement and social capital, and helping contribute to an overall culture of health within the communities being served. In addition to building trust, community partnerships are also important avenues of shared resources and combined talents, resulting in enhanced opportunities for positive health outcomes.

6. Management and finance skills

None of the contributions public health professionals make to our communities would be possible without people being able to oversee the logistics of each and every effort. This is why acute management and finance skills can be important for those working in public health.

Depending on your role, you may be tasked with securing and managing human resources, securing and managing financial resources, engaging in professional development efforts, participating in contingency planning, and managing the programs and services that are implemented.

7. Public health sciences skills

While all the above skill sets are immeasurably important in public health, it is crucial for professionals in this sector to maintain sharp skills related to public health sciences in general. This means developing an evolving knowledge of the systems, policies, and events that have the greatest impact on environmental health.

It also means that public health officials need expertise in evidence-based practices, as concrete findings will be required to develop, implement, evaluate, and improve policies and services in public health.

Develop the public health skills you need for a thriving career

By working in public health, you’ll have the opportunity to make a concrete difference in the lives of others. But in order to succeed in this important field, you will need to develop the core public health competencies organizations are looking for.

If you’re interested in an interdisciplinary approach to public health education with a customizable curriculum rooted in science and social justice, you can find what you’re looking for at Fairfield University. Learn more about Fairfield’s dynamic approach by visiting the online Master of Public Health (MPH) program page.

Experts call for more mental health education, support for Hong Kong students after resumption of in-person learning – YP

When Hong Kong’s students headed back to school in mid-April as the city’s Covid-19 cases began to stabilize, not everyone was celebrating.

The city’s schools have long lacked sufficient mental health education and support for pupils, and this issue was exacerbated by the reduction of in-person learning as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent months, schools have been shocked by a number of student suicide cases, and education experts have called for more support for student mental health.

Psychologist explains why emotions should be a school subject

Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, director of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Center for Suicide Research and Prevention at the University of Hong Kong, described it as a “worrying” trend that could be related to the disruptions in schooling amid the pandemic.

“During the disruptions, students could not catch up with learning … and lacked social support from peers and teachers,” Yip said, adding that as classes resumed and exams loomed, students started feeling more pressure.

“Exams are always stressful for students, but [after having online classes] its impact could be higher, especially for those from underprivileged families or who are handling complicated personal problems.”

Professor Paul Yip believes the pandemic-related disruptions to schooling have deeply affected students’ mental health. Photo: KY Cheng

Leung Pui-yee, a registered educational psychologist, agreed as she worried that the trend might continue, especially in anticipation of the release in July of the results from the city’s university entrance exam.

“There is a pattern of student suicide, which is usually the case [increases] before school resumption and exam periods,” said Leung. “When school resumes, the stressors come back, and students are often short of coping strategies.”

The psychologist noted that during the pandemic, students dealt with multiple sources of anxiety, such as staying safe from the virus and adjusting to a new routine.

“The on-and-off learning has affected their studies and relationships,” she said, adding that the missing support network and lack of social interaction could cause students to feel helpless and hopeless.

Psychology education that is up to date, down to earth for Hongkongers

Esther Ho Yuk-fan, principal of Carmel Alison Lam Foundation Secondary School, stressed mental health education was needed to help students deal with stress.

“We should teach people that the ending of your life is never a solution to the problem,” the educator explained.

While the Education Bureau (EDB) offered some online resources, Ho noted mental health education was ultimately up to individual schools to determine.

Esther Ho, principal of Carmel Alison Lam Foundation Secondary School, says the government should do more to help schools protect their students. Photo: Roy Issa

“Some schools are more aware and active in addressing students’ mental health, while some are still [mainly] focused on academics,” she said. “In the past, mental health education was one-off, usually just a talk.”

“But there are systematic … strategies to address the issue. And since mental health is a personal issue, schools should also provide tailored support and tools for pupils.”

The principal said the government should take a more active role in fostering mental health education and protecting students.

Hong Kong comedy group on the transformative, hopeful power of laughter

“The EDB definitely has a role to play… by [providing] resources or encouraging schools to take action,” she said.

Ho, who is also the chairwoman of the Hong Kong Association of Careers Masters and Guidance Masters, has collaborated with other educational and health institutions to launch Jockey Club Project Well-being. Since the three-year initiative began this February, more than 150 schools have taken part.

The project aims to improve the well-being of students, teachers and parents. Through tools such as mindfulness, it hopes to equip pupils with social and emotional skills.

Angela Lam, a Form One student from St Paul’s Co-educational College, said resuming in-person classes was stressful, and students needed more resources.

“I do feel that I am estranged from my classmates,” the 13-year-old said. “There should be lectures for students … to let us learn about adjusting our mood and attitude.”

Ma Jingmao, a Form Four student at Carmel Pak U Secondary School, agreed with Angela about the challenges of heading back to school.

“With unfinished homework, [being] unprepared for tests and dictations, I found it difficult to catch up … after the class resumption,” the 16-year-old explained.

Psychologist explains how social anxiety affects teens, when to get help

She said some of her teachers and friends had left Hong Kong, making her return even more difficult.

Jingmao suggested that schools focus on helping students emotionally adjust to all the recent changes and challenges rather than rushing back into academics.

“It would be better if no tests and examinations were held in the first week of class resumption [to help us] adapt to the busy school life from the long break.”

Why a social worker writes role-playing games on bullying, mental health

Her school has social workers, but the teenager said most students were too shy to speak about their difficulties.

“I really hope there will be some talk about how to deal with mental health problems, especially after the class resumption,” she said.

If you have suicidal thoughts or know someone who does, for Hong Kong, dial 2896-0000 for The Samaritans or 2382-0000 for Suicide Prevention Services. In the US, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at +1 (800) 273-8255. For a list of other nations’ helplines, see this page.

Click here to download a printable worksheet with questions and exercises about this story. Answers are on the second page of the document.


ECU health sciences prepare its graduates to lead the rural workforce

The college and schools on East Carolina University’s Health Sciences Campus share a mission produce top-notch health care professionals to serve North Carolina.

A key component of that commitment is innovation in delivering education and patient care in the most rural and underserved communities, as well as rural health-focused courses, field work, research and programs that emphasize the need for better access across the state

ECU’s innovative rural health focused education is taking place across North Carolina, from nursing students caring for Alzheimer’s disease patients in the East to the rotations dental students complete community service learning centers in the mountainous western portion of the state.

Here’s a look at how the colleges and schools on ECU’s Health Sciences Campus are addressing North Carolina’s rural health care needs and challenges through education.

College of Allied Health Sciences

In the College of Allied Health Sciences, patient care includes valuable learning experiences for students on how to provide care in rural settings and for patients from rural communities. Rural health care is central to the school’s mission.

“Our students learn about the importance of transforming health care, promoting wellness and increasing access to health care for the people of eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Leigh Cellucci, associate dean for academic affairs. “Students spend time with patients and clients from rural areas. They learn firsthand the importance of access to health care.”

Bilingual and Mexican-American Graduate Assistant Rocio Vega enrolls a patient into the Fresh Start program at the W.A.T.C.H. Clinic in Goldsboro, North Carolina. (Contributed photo)

ECU’s College of Allied Health Sciences is North Carolina’s largest allied health sciences college at a four-year institution. It has a fall 2022 enrollment of 1,481 students and boasts more than 10,000 alumni. Close to 75% of its graduates remain in North Carolina to work, with more than half of those working or living in eastern North Carolina.

The school’s clinics, including the Speech Language and Hearing Clinic, the student-run Physical Therapy Clinic, the new dtudent-run Occupational Therapy Clinic, and the Navigate Counseling Clinic see patients from rural areas of eastern North Carolina. Other initiatives created in the college are aimed at addressing health care challenges for special populations.

Rural health is a key component across the school’s departments in order to prepare students for careers anywhere they are needed.

“It is of critical importance that small hospitals in eastern North Carolina employ highly-qualified clinical laboratory science professionals to work in their labs to provide better health care,” said Dr. Guyla Evans, chair of the Department of Clinical Laboratory Science. “The people of eastern North Carolina deserve this, and we accomplish this.”

Dr. Paul Bell, professor in the Department of Health Services and Information Management, said preparing students through curriculum and experience will enable them to better understand the importance of access in improving health care services.

“Health care administrators serve an important supportive role to ensure better health for the people who live in our rural communities, and our understanding that access to primary care, particularly preventive care, will improve our health is central to our mission of transforming health care delivery,” he said.

Physician Assistant Studies student Allision Priest said the college not only prepares students but provides them invaluable resources to assist patients that will be relevant into their future careers.

“(Our faculty are) not only inspiring us to work in those rural fields, but they’re also giving us resources to be able to help the people that are living in those places,” Priest said. “We’re really diving deep into health inequities and understanding food deserts.”

The Brody School of Medicine

The East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine educates students about the obstacles patients in underresourced must overcome to receive health care.

“The majority of the counties in this state are rural, so if we are going to proclaim to improve the health status of eastern North Carolina we have to be prepared to do so in a rural environment,” said Dr. Matthew A. Rushing, family medicine clinical assistant professor and assistant residency director.

The school values recruiting mission-fit students with a rural background, experience with underserved populations and a track record of community and service engagement.

Brody medical students learn in the Clinical Simulation Lab.

Brody medical students learn in the Clinical Simulation Lab. (ECU Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Brody is over the 90th percentile nationally in graduates practicing in rural areas with 12% of graduates practicing compared to a national median of 4%, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges Mission Management Tool. Brody also has the highest retention of graduates practicing in rural North Carolina counties five years after graduation among other medical schools in the state, according to the Sheps Center report on 2022 Outcomes of NC Medical School Graduates.

With more Brody graduates practicing in the state than any other medical school it is a testimony to the school’s mission, Rushing said.

“This work is more than important — it’s necessary, and this is where Brody education truly shines,” Rushing said.

Training for service in rural areas starts as early as the first year of medical school for Brody students, with a series of standardized patients whose stories are set in the rural communities of eastern North Carolina that first-year students encounter as they learn to conduct patient interviews as a first step in diagnosing patients.

First and second-year Brody students are offered a course on Society, Culture and Health Systems that included a research project that focused on county health systems. Students gathered data on one county health system and population, used the data to examine the county’s COVID-19 response, and developed and answered a research question related to the health system as it related to course concepts.

“The purpose of this project is to bring the topics and concepts covered in our course to life a real and local way,” said Dr. Sheena Eagan, course director and assistant professor. “The project highlights the vast differences between rural, urban and suburban counties, reinforcing the idea that counties can be adjacent and yet have vastly different health systems contributing to disparities in health status.”

The course helps students examine the barriers to optimal health that residents face in rural North Carolina.

“Students examine the health care systems currently in place and determine if there are better ways to deliver quality health care to populations that are in these settings,” said Dr. Cedric Bright, interim vice dean and associate dean for admissions.

Second-year students also examine how to better address the lack of access from hospitals closing as well as private practices, and how that impacts preventive medicine and population health.

As they move into the third and fourth years, Brody’s Family Medicine Clerkship places students in community clinics where they see first-hand how rural physicians care for their patients. Students on their Family Medicine and Pediatric clerkship rotations spend up to half of their training in a rural, community setting. Medical students are assessed on their ability to communicate with patients in a caring, compassionate, and effective manner.

Students choose from elective courses to gain exposure to a variety of medical specialties and explore individual interests. Students can participate in an elective led by BSOM faculty to serve rural communities in Zambia, which allows students to serve the needs of an international community. Students can also complete a combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Acting Internship at ECU Health Duplin Hospital or ECU Health Edgecombe Hospital.

“Rural medicine requires an element of ingenuity — patients living in rural areas have health care needs that are shaped by the resources they are (or aren’t) able to access easily in their communities,” said Emmalee Todd, a third-year medical student. “Even for those of us who will end up at large tertiary-care centers, understanding what goes into rural medicine can help us better serve patients coming from those areas.”

In the fall of 2021, Brody and ECU Health Medical Center, formerly Vidant Medical Center, launched a new Rural Family Medicine Residency Program to equip physicians with specialized training in caring for patients in rural and underserved communities.

Residents spend a majority of their first year of training at ECU Health Medical Center and ECU’s Family Medicine Center in Greenville before spending the next two years training in rural health care centers in eastern North Carolina.

The complete Brody experience provides an integrated curriculum focused on health systems science for all four years, adding to students’ foundation for practicing rural health by using an authentic, embedded approach to patient safety, population health and team-based care.

“Ultimately, we hope that from this curriculum, the next generation of leaders will arise to meet the needs of the people in eastern North Carolina,” Bright said. 

Department of Public Health

The Department of Public Health at the Brody School of Medicine provides a strong foundation of understanding the challenges of rural health.

“The needs of rural people are distinctly different than those in urban or more urban communities,” said associate professor Dr. Ruth Little. “In order to successfully facilitate rural health improvements, this population has to be first understood.”

The department requires Master of Public Health students to take a course on Interdisciplinary Rural Health, which includes topics from the concentrations of epidemiology, health policy and leadership and community health and health behavior.

“In epidemiology, we lay the groundwork for rural and urban comparisons, ultimately demonstrating that for many health indicators rural communities suffer a higher burden of disease than their more urban counterparts,” said Dr. Nancy Winterbauer, associate professor. “In health policy and leadership, we examine reasons for these disparities, including the impact of race, access to health services and policy on rural health. Finally, the community health and health behavior concentration focuses on rural health improvement, especially in the areas of health behavior, community engagement and advocacy, evidence-based interventions and public health practice.”

All these factors simultaneously cause higher incidence of chronic illnesses and poor health outcomes. That is why it is so critical we learn about these issues, how rural health care systems are working to address them and urge more public health practitioners and health care providers to serve them.

– Brandon Stroud, ECU public health student

Little said rural communities in the East have a bleaker health outlook than the regions in the middle and western portions of the state.

“It’s important to help our students not only understand this, but in addressing these health disparities, engage students with rural communities, providing opportunities for us to work together to improve population health,” Little said.

Student Brandon Stroud said the curriculum in rural health is preparing him to be able to think critically to solve problems in rural communities.

“Often, these counties have a much lower median income compared to their urban counterparts, there are fewer healthy food resources, recreational spaces, less health care providers and limited access to specialty care,” he said. “All these factors simultaneously cause higher incidence of chronic illnesses and poor health outcomes. That is why it is so critical we learn about these issues, how rural health care systems are working to address them and urge more public health practitioners and health care providers to serve them.”

The College of Nursing

ECU’s College of Nursing graduates close to 79% of nurses employed in North Carolina, with 39% serving eastern North Carolina. Nearly 60 graduates chose to work in one of the state’s 40 most distressed counties, as designated by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Specific nursing courses and programs encourage students to gain exposure to health care settings where they will care for patients from every life situation.

“In community health, we ensure that our students are prepared to take care of patients in all environments,” said Lesha Rouse, clinical instructor. “In this course, the student will complete a community service learning project (CSLP), expanding perspectives of ‘health care’ from the individual, acute care focus to a population-, community-based focus.”

Nursing students at every level receive instruction and experience caring for patients in rural settings.

Nursing students listen to instructions during the standardized patient training.

Nursing students listen to instructions during the standardized patient training. (ECU photo by Rhett Butler)

“Students are training in a number of ways, including traditional lecture and course content as well as through experiential and simulated learning,” said assistant professor Dr. Stephanie Hart. “This is particularly important relative to practice in rural areas, where students are exposed to the realities of the social determinants of health — the primary drivers of population health outcomes.”

Hart said undergraduate students prepare to enter clinical rotations in rural areas by learning about the social determinants of health and the unique needs of rural communities.

“They build upon their knowledge of rural health through their participation in a windshield survey of an eastern North Carolina county, which provides them with the opportunity to drive around the county making observations of community members and their environment,” she said. “From there, they continue to explore these communities in detail through review of the county community health needs assessment and engaging with community members and key stakeholders to gather insight into community strengths and needs.”

The majority of undergraduate students, including those in traditional BSN and accelerated BSN programs, complete an 85-hour clinical rotation in community health or community-based settings to further add to their experience in rural areas.

“They are able to successfully integrate into the clinical learning environment, where they not only learn more about the unique needs of the individuals and communities served by these agencies, but they are afforded several opportunities to apply course objectives in practice,” Hart said.

She added that ECU’s College of Nursing and one of its partnering clinical agencies, 3HC Home Health and Hospice Care, Inc., received funding from the Hospice and Home Care Foundation of North Carolina to participate in a pilot project designed to address the shortage of home care nurses across North Carolina, particularly in rural areas.

“This project resulted in new approaches regarding the training, recruitment and integration of newly graduated RNs (registered nurses) into home health and hospice agencies,” Hart said.

The college has also received funding from Eastern AHEC for the last several years to develop new clinical training sites for nursing students, most of which are situated within rural, underserved Tier 1 or Tier 2 counties.

Hart said these programs and curricula offer students exposure to prepare them to work in those same settings as professionals.

“When we train health care professions students to work with and understand community health and rural health care, we aim to eliminate these gaps by facilitating recruitment and retention efforts of health care professionals in rural areas, reduce workforce shortages and increase diversity in our workforce,” she said.

The college also has a Health Resources and Services Advanced Nursing Education Workforce grant that allows the college to train a select number of advanced practice registered nurse students to care for patients in rural and underserved areas, including patients who are farmers, loggers and fishers — occupations prevalent to North Carolina that also present industry-specific health hazards. The program, APRN Rural and Underserved Roadmap to Advance Leadership (RURAL) Scholars Program, includes a graduate-level course in agromedicine with practical experiences with the farming community.

“Students are provided generous stipends to participate in the program, which includes instruction in rural health and health disparities, clinical practice in rural and underserved communities and training in telehealth and telepsychiatry,” said Dr. Pamela Reis, associate professor and interim Ph.D. program director in the College of Nursing.

So far, 47 students have graduated from the program and are providing care in these communities across North Carolina; there are 17 students in the current cohort.

Dr. Michelle Skipper, director of the doctor of nursing practice program, said educating nurse practitioners to the needs of rural patients is critical for the transformation of the region’s health care delivery.

“We can recruit nurses from rural communities, train them as primary care clinicians, and return them for long-term service to the community which already trusts them,” Skipper said. “Receiving care from a nurse practitioner is ultimately an ideal choice in small towns, not simply a ‘consolation prize’ because other health care professionals don’t want to live and work there.”

Dr. Donna Roberson, professor and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, Carolina Geriatric Workforce Enhancement program grant, said it is crucial to educate nurses about the aging population and some of the diseases that are more prevalent among older adults.

“As our eastern North Carolina citizens age, their risk for dementias like Alzheimer’s Disease increase,” she said. “Most are living in their communities and are cared for by family caregivers. Their health care providers (medical doctors, nurse practitioners and more) need to have a good understanding of what the person living with dementia experiences and what their family has to manage.”