The South Central Kentucky Chapter of the Area Health Education Center recently announced the establishment of WKU Rural Health Student Association Clubworking to combat disparities between rural and urban health care in Kentucky and to keep students informed.
Ninety rural and partially rural counties in Kentucky are currently considered “medically underserved areas,” according to the Administration of health resources and services.
According to Emily Pride, Health Careers and Education Specialist for AHEC, the club’s two main goals are education and community service.
Pride said the organization strives to connect communities through health care, such as continuing clinical education and providing pipeline programs for high school and undergraduate programs.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all the people who want to be doctors practicing in a rural area, it can be people who want to be social workers, nurses, speech therapists, any type of healthcare career, as well as those who are only interested in the health care of those communities,” Pride said. “Kentucky is a historically underserved state when it comes to medical, dental, and mental health care, and so this club is primarily designed to educate students about the various issues found in rural communities and how we can develop these problems.”
The club is structured so that each meeting focuses on a different topic featuring different guest speakers from various community organizations. The October speaker will be from the Barren River Region Safe Spacea local shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Hannah Jones, president and founder of the club, noticed health disparities in the places she lived, inspiring her to start it in the first place.
“I started the club because I live in both Monroe County and Barren County, so I noticed a huge disparity between rural America and urban America,” Jones said. ” […] My family would have to drive an hour to get proper medical attention, while those in Bowling Green would only have to drive down the road, maybe ten minutes at the most, to get to their doctor.
According to Jones, the main problem that rural Americans face when it comes to health care is a higher underinsured population and access to fewer doctors, most of whom do not have Ph.Ds. full-time.
The inhabitants of these areas do not have the same access to specialized care.
“The main objective of the club is to create health professionals in the dental, pre-medical, pharmaceutical professions, such as this [that] are going to want to practice in rural America so we can try to address the shortages of doctors, physicians and dentists in those areas,” Jones said.
Anyone interested in joining the club can contact Pride at [email protected].
Journalist Damon Stone can be reached at [email protected].