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TAMU launches new program to boost rural healthcare

The initiative is a two-year program funded by the state with $7.5 million per year
Posted at 10:08 AM, Feb 01, 2024

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M University launches a new Rural Engagement Program. The program aims to increase accessibility to healthcare in rural Texas.

  • The initiative is made up of two components: workforce and operation.
  • It is a two-year program funded by the state with $7.5 million per year.
  • 3 million Texans live in rural areas; 74 out of 254 counties are without a hospital.

BROADCAST SCRIPT:

"Rural health care is can be challenging, especially here in Texas. The majority of Texas is rural. So how can we support rural health care in Texas, through our agencies within the Texas a&m Health Science Center."

Dr. Kia Parsi is the Executive Director of the Texas A&M Rural Community Health Institute. He is also one of the key players in the new Texas A&M initiative to bolster rural healthcare.

"There are two main areas of focus. First is workforce. So we have nursing students and medical students, how can we encourage them to consider rural as job option once they finish their academic career?"

"The second component, in addition to workforce is operations, how can we ensure that rural healthcare institutions remain viable, long term?"

These long-term solutions could also lighten the load for Liz Dickey and the free clinic she runs in Bryan.

'We have about 20% of the patients that we serve that come in from outlying counties. It is always a challenge just for transportation and the time and effort that it takes to get in. But frequently, we are for some of them, their only option," Dickey said.

The lack of access and transportation can lead to serious consequences.

"There's a lot of people in the rural areas that are just ignoring their health care," Dickey said.

That's why Dr. Parsi says this initiative will encourage the next generation of doctors and nurses to go rural – by exposing students to rural medicine and the communities that come with it.

"Mason, Texas, we had a student do a rotation. He signed a contract to go back to that community after he finished his residency in four years. So that is making a difference for that community," Dr. Parsi said.