Rural healthcare has become a hub for innovation, and this week we engage in a conversation about, yet another way rural health is taking the lead with telementoring. Our next guest on Rural Health Leadership Radio is Dr. Wari Allison, a physician-scientist and director of the National Rural Telementoring Training Center. Wari shares her insights on leadership and the power of collaboration. In our conversation, we discuss the importance of addressing health disparities in rural America and how telementoring can help bridge the gap.
“Telementoring can be there to educate and skill build and it's fairly easy to access because all you need is telecommunications.”
-Dr. Wari Allison
Dr. Wari Allison directs the federally funded National Rural Telementoring Training Center and is VP of Health Policy at the University of North Texas Health Science Center Fort Worth and Executive Director of their Center for Health Policy. She is board certified in internal medicine and Infectious disease and holds a PhD in Public Health and Community Medicine. Dr. Allison is elected to fellowship of both the American College of Physicians and the Infectious Disease Society of America and is passionate about combating health inequities.
Growing up in a rural community increases the chances of entering rural practice, but rural residencies have an even more significant impact. Our next guest, Dr. Randy Longenecker, a senior advisor and consultant at the RTT Collaborative, discusses his passion for rural healthcare and the importance of upbringing and training location on physicians' likelihood to practice in rural areas. Dr. Longenecker emphasizes the need to increase residency training in rural areas to address the shortage of healthcare professionals. In our conversation, we discussed how expanding rural education opportunities can help improve access to healthcare in rural communities.
“Train for Rural in Rural”
Randall Longenecker, MD is a family physician who has dedicated his career to caring for rural communities and growing a community of practice in rural health professions education and training. He practiced comprehensive family medicine in Logan County, OH, for 30 years including maternity care, and 15 years as Program Director of a rural training track program in family medicine. In the past 20 years, he has designed and established more than a dozen programs in undergraduate and graduate medical education and in continuing professional development. He has consulted in the design and implementation of many others.
He is now Assistant Dean Emeritus for Rural and Underserved Programs and Professor of Family Medicine at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, in Athens, Ohio, where he initiated the Rural and Urban Scholars Pathways program among other programs in preparing students and residents for work in rural and urban underserved communities. In retirement, he and his wife moved to Bridgewater, Virginia. Having founded the organization in 2012 and served as executive director for 10 years, he is now Senior Advisor and Consultant for The RTT Collaborative, a national non-profit board-directed cooperative of rural programs devoted to sustaining health professions education in rural places, providing technical assistance to developing and existing programs and pursuing research in rural health professions education and training.
Rural hospitals constantly face the difficult task of staying financially stable while offering a wide range of services. Our next guest comes from a finance background and never imagined working in healthcare. Luke Senden witnessed the impact of rural hospitals on saving lives and supporting communities, leading him to his current role as CEO of Johnson County Health Center in Buffalo, Wyoming. In our conversation with Luke, we discuss the crucial role of relationships and continuous learning in rural healthcare.
“In critical access hospitals, you have to wear a lot of hats and you have to be a learner.”
Luke has been the Chief Executive Officer of Johnson County Healthcare Center in Buffalo Wyoming since 2021. Luke’s journey in healthcare began as CFO for two health systems before making the switch to the CEO role, where he witnessed firsthand the unique challenges faced by rural hospitals. Luke has a passion for seeing rural healthcare succeed in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.
Research has shown that a key indicator of whether a physician works in a rural healthcare setting is the location of their residency. While these opportunities can be scarce in rural facilities, one physician is working to expand physician residency opportunities in rural areas. This week we’re talking to Dr. Jack Michel, Strategic Advisor at RuralGME.
“We want to expand these opportunities because it’s such an incredible opportunity for people to be able to work on their skills, while not incurring huge debt and serving the public.”
-Dr. Jack Michel
Dr. Jack Michel is a physician specializing in Internal Medicine. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Miami in 1984, earning Summa Cum Laude. He received his Medical Doctor degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1989 and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Jackson Memorial Hospital in 1993. He served as Chief Medical Resident at the VA Medical Center for the University of Miami in 1994.
His determination in having a successful impact on the community led him to acquire Larkin Community Hospital in 1998. In 2011, Larkin Community Hospital instituted its first Graduate Medical Education programs and has now grown to offer residencies in 30 different specialties and is the sixth largest Statutory Teaching Hospital in Florida (by the number of physicians in training) and the fourth largest by specialties in supply/demand deficit in Florida.