Context: Statewide studies indicate a continuing shortfall of personnel in several allied health disciplines in rural Georgia. National trends indicate lagging enrollment in allied health education programs, suggesting that the workforce shortages will worsen. Purpose: This article describes the efforts of the School of Allied Health Sciences at the Medical College of Georgia to increase allied health student participation in interdisciplinary health care services in rural areas of the state during fiscal years 2001-2003. Methods: Brief program description and results from survey data provided by the student participants, program administrators, and clinical site supervisors. Results: Three-year totals indicate that 98 students (70 female, 28 male) participated and 42% reported low-income status. In line with the goals of the grant, the proportion of minority student participants steadily increased from 5% to 12% over the 3-year period. Rotation locations included 62 designated Health Professional Shortage Area counties, 71 federally designated Rural Health Clinics, and 6 Community Health Clinics. At the conclusion of the students' rural health care experience, 76% (55/72) responded positively when asked: If you had the opportunity, would you accept employment at the rotation health care site? Conclusions: The project appears to be positively affecting allied health students' perceptions and opinions of rural health practices and willingness to work in rural areas. Although long-term goals have yet to be accomplished, early indicators show benefits to the students and the community at-large, suggesting that the current program strategies are appropriate connectors between allied health students and rural communities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health