Minnesota Nursing magazine

From the Dean

Lifelines in rural communities

Connie DelaneyDear Friends,

As I reflect on recent conversations with our students, alumni, clinical partners, staff, faculty and other colleagues I hear a universal longing for more time for deeper relationships. As members of the most trusted profession in the country, nurses continuously seek to expand that trust through patient relationships.

At a time when health systems continue to grow larger and more fragmented, the authentic patient/provider relationship remains strong in small rural communities. Patient-centered care is a hallmark of rural health care, where providers are able to listen well, understand patient goals, family and community contexts, and work together to optimize health and well-being.

The greatest challenge for rural health today is access. Provider shortages, an aging population, geographic barriers and lower patient volumes all converge to create well-documented health disparities.

In this issue of Minnesota Nursing, we share three poignant examples of how our school is building the health care capacity of rural providers in 2016, while honoring patient/provider relationships.

A new $3.3 million National Institutes of Health grant is making possible the design, implementation and study of a prevention program for childhood obesity in a rural community that has among the highest obesity rates in the nation.

In northern Minnesota, our Doctor of Nursing Practice students will be learning interprofessionally in a network of clinics to gain a better understanding of how to serve the pressing needs for mental health care in remote communities.

Our cover story, Pain on the Prairie, describes an initiative being led by Professor Diane Treat-Jacobson, PhD, RN, FAAN, a nation-leading researcher on peripheral artery disease. Her team of clinicians and investigators is partnering with rural communities to improve the diagnosis and treatment of this often undiagnosed and debilitating disease.

In sparsely populated areas, nurses often serve as a lifeline to people in need of information and care. Nursemidwives support expectant mothers through pregnancy and birth, public health nurses address community health crises, and gerontological nurse practitioners care for people with multiple complex conditions so they can stay safely in their homes and communities. In Minnesota, nurse anesthetists provide well over 60 percent of all anesthesia care outside of our largest metropolitan center.

Our tri-mission of research, education and service is improving health in large and small ways in rural areas around the world.

Connie W. Delaney
Professor and Dean