Bringing Conference Back To Carolina

By: Leah Daniel

Hi everyone! My name is Leah Daniel, and I’m one of the 2017 Eve Carson Scholars. I just got back from the National Rural Health Association’s Annual Conference in San Diego. This was part one of my two-part summer experience. Having grown up in a small town in rural eastern North Carolina, I’m extremely passionate about rural health care.

I was so excited when I got the scholarship because it gave me the opportunity to attend the NRHA’s Annual Conference, as well as the Health Equity conference this summer. The second part of my adventure starts this week! I’ll be working at the Edgecombe County Health Department in Tarboro, NC, to help implement community programs while also doing some shadowing on the clinical floor.

But back to the conference for now! I spent a few days in San Diego in sessions with rural health care providers, as well as policymakers, all working to improve the lives of rural citizens across America. On average, rural populations are older, poorer, and sicker than their urban counterparts. Additionally, while only about 19% of Americans live in rural counties, those people span 72% of the United States’ land. This creates geological barriers to care, along with the social and financial barriers people also face, which gives rural healthcare providers a specific set of challenges to deal with.

I met so many people doing amazing work from Washington, to Colorado, to right here in North Carolina. I heard from the Mountain AHEC in Asheville, NC, the Mobile Medicine Program that works in Nash and Edgecombe Counties, and the UNC Pharmacy school’s program incorporating pharmacists into care teams in western NC. Within each session, we spent time discussing the specific barriers faced by each presenter’s community, and I was struck by how similar many of the issues were to ones that we face here in rural NC.

I really enjoyed being surrounded by people who are as passionate about improving the lives of rural citizens as I am! I came back more energized and excited than before- ready to tackle the barriers to care existing in eastern NC.  I’ll be posting a couple more updates over the course of the summer, so stay tuned for more on how I used the skills I learned at the NRHA conference here at home in North Carolina.