Once again I ask, where will our future rural health leaders come from? And once again we have found one future rural health leader, this time in the state of New York. Her name is Emma Dening, and Emma is this year’s recipient of the Rural Health Leadership Radio Juanita Bartholomew Scholarship. The Juanita Bartholomew Scholarship was established to assist high school graduates who want to continue their education in a healthcare field with the goal of working in Rural America.
“Leadership is having the courage to speak against the most common opinion.”
Growing up in a county with more cows than people, Emma saw the epidemic facing rural youth, especially the population of young girls. Not COVID, rather losing confidence in themselves because of the expectations of their surroundings, many youth in her area surrendered their potential to the opinions of those around them.
Throughout high school, Emma captained her Varsity Basketball and Softball teams, lead her Cleats for Athletes program that provided in-need student-athletes with free sports equipment, co-coached several youth girls basketball teams, began a tutoring program and started a program connecting young athletes to their varsity teams, in hopes of inspiring the youth to take control of their own futures and be their own greatest activists.
This fall, she will be entering Le Moyne College’s 5-year Physician Assistant program, granting her a Master’s in Biology and her PA license. Initially, Emma committed to St. Lawrence University to further her basketball career with the intent of entering medical school before deciding a career as a PA better suited her desired lifestyle.
Where will our future rural health leaders come from? We have found one future rural health leader in Louisiana and we’re having a conversation with her. Her name is Ellyn Kate Boothe, and Ellyn Kate is the recipient of the Rural Health Leadership Radio Earl Bartholomew Scholarship. The Earl Bartholomew Scholarship was established to assist high school graduates who want to continue their education in a healthcare field with the goal of working in Rural America.
“My definition of leadership would be to carry yourself with grace and determination.”
~Elynn Kate Boothe
Elynn Kate Boothe is a recent graduate of Minden High School in Minden, Louisiana. She is an active member of her youth group at First Baptist Minden where she loves to fellowship and serve others in her community. In her free time, you can find her with a book, hanging out with family and friends, and online shopping. She is excited to be starting a new chapter in her life by attending Northwestern State University in the fall to pursue a degree in nursing.
How do you create a healthier rural community? Collaboration is certainly a key ingredient to making that happen, but how do you go about that? Dr. Sameer Vohra and his team of collaborators are trying to make a difference in rural Southern Illinois with the ‘Building a Healthier Rural Illinois’ initiative.
“People in rural areas were more likely before the pandemic to die from the five leading causes of death in America.”
~Dr. Sameer Vohra
Dr. Vohra was born and raised in Chicago and received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Northwestern University. He then went on to receive a dual degree from Southern Illinois University’s Medicine and Law Dual Degree Program, as well as traveling to India on a United States Department of State Fulbright Scholarship.
He has a passion for improving people’s health as well as the one-on-one connection that comes with being a physician, fueled by his desire to understand how he could work to improve society’s health. Dr. Vohra would go on to attend the University of Chicago where he was the first to follow the pediatric public policy track, where he trained as a general pediatrician and received advanced public policy training.
Dr. Sameer Vohra settled back into Southern Illinois University and began his journey into population health and science, taking steps to make a concrete difference in the communities he served. He was able to lead the creation of the Office of Population Science and Policy to determine if there would be support, funding, and interest in the community to launch the office as an academic department. The Department of Population Science and Policy was officially launched in July 2018, and is only one of 25 such departments in the country.
Oftentimes we feel like we cannot make a difference. We say to ourselves, “I’m only one voice. How can I make a difference? I work at a little hospital in the middle of nowhere, who’s going to listen to me” I’ve heard numerous rural health leaders say that or something similar. Yet I know firsthand that one voice can make a big difference.
“Small things make a big difference.”
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, explains how trends in behavior, marketing, or business have a ‘magic moment’ when they rapidly spread like an epidemic. He calls this moment the ‘tipping point.’ I thought it was appropriate to revisit this book with its epidemic analogy and the idea that little things can make a big impact.
Rural Health Leadership Radio was created to share rural health leadership best practices at no cost. Each week, we have a different rural health leader as a guest sharing what works, what they have tried that didn’t work, and the unique approaches they are implementing.
Thank you for listening!
This week on Rural Health Leadership Radio we are having a conversation with Dr. Hannah Wenger, a clinical care specialist on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, and faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital. Hannah is a physician who is passionate about providing culturally relevant care to the residents of the community she serves.
“What does allopathic medicine have to do with a traditional ceremony like a sweat lodge? I would argue it has a lot to do with it”
~ Hannah Wenger M.D.
Hannah Wenger, MD, is a general internist and faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) having just completed MGH’s Fellowship Program in Rural Health Leadership. She obtained her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Notre Dame and her medical degree at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She then completed an internal medicine residency and a clinical medical ethics fellowship at the University of Chicago. As a rural health fellow at MGH, Dr. Wenger currently provides clinical care to the Sicangu Lakota Oyate on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Her interests include Two Spirit and LGBTQ health, hepatitis C, and clinical ethics.