National Rural Health Association

2015 Annual Conference

NRHA Programs Overview

For more than thirty years, the National Rural Health Association has been serving rural communities by advancing and publicizing rural health issues and seeking to solve rural health care challenges. NRHA is the only national organization with a clear mission to improve the delivery of health services in rural areas and the capacity, through its members and staff, to provide research, education, leadership, and informational support to help rural citizens build, maintain, and improve the institutions that can meet their health care needs.

NRHA’s activities bring together residents of rural communities, rural health professionals of all specialties, representatives of state, local, and national governments, and the full range of private sector rural health organizations. Through workshops, conferences, technical assistance, and other outreach efforts, NRHA programs serve rural communities by providing relevant and timely information and best practices to all people who care about the health of rural America.


State rural health associations

State Rural Health Associations (SRHAs) are critical partners with the National Rural Health Association in pursuing our mission “to improve the health and well-being of rural Americans and their communities through advocacy, communications, education and research.”

SRHAs exist in almost all states, residing either in state governments, universities or as nonprofit organizations. Each SRHA works to help their individual rural communities build health care delivery systems through collecting and disseminating information, helping to coordinate rural health interests state-wide, and by supporting efforts to improve recruitment and retention of health professionals. SRHAs fulfill the broad goals of increasing awareness of rural health issues in their states and providing networking and educational opportunities to their members.

NRHA works closely with each SRHA, offering an Annual Skillbuilding Workshop, an SRHA toolkit and constant technical assistance to each state.


Rural Medical Educators

Rural areas face widespread shortages of physicians, and medical education has traditionally not encouraged rural careers. NRHA supports students, faculty and other practitioners committed to increasing the numbers of physicians practicing in rural areas through its Rural Medical Educators (RME) group and Annual Rural Medical Educators Conference.


Rural health students

NRHA boasts more than 200 student members with an interest in rural health, including innumerable college and medical school chapters. NRHA students work with the Rural Medical Educators to formulate models for improving the provision of rural-specific medical education. Student members are also active in the development and maintenance of a technical assistance toolkit for college chapters and medical schools, facilitating student involvement at the national level in rural health activities.

NRHA works to actively educate students with an interest in rural health care. Scholarships are available for students and residents to attend NRHA conferences, and NRHA has developed student-specific curricula at several annual events.


Emerging issues in rural health

Each year, NRHA conducts a search of rural health literature and consults with state and national leaders to identify a short list of the most pressing policy issues in rural health. With the help of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, NRHA identifies and brings together a group of leading experts in the chosen fields to develop a series of in-depth policy recommendations for the federal government. Following the development of these recommendations, NRHA disseminates this information and the findings of these important meetings through its annual educational conferences.


Rural Health Fellows program

The Rural Health Fellows (RHF) program is a year-long, intensive program run by NRHA that strives to develop leaders who can articulate a clear and compelling vision for rural America. Fellows will gain valuable insights and build critical skills in personal, team, and organizational leadership, health policy analysis and advocacy, and NRHA governance and structure. These ambitious learning and skill development objectives are accomplished through a combination of experiential and action learning, exposure to premier faculty and seasoned practitioners, and reinforcement through executive coaching and structured team assignments.


Rural multiracial and multicultural health

Disproportionate access to care, fragmented health care systems, lack of cultural sensitivity among providers, and cultural beliefs and behaviors are key determinants of racial/ethnic disparities in health care and health status. NRHA works with its members toward the elimination of health disparities and to improve access to quality health care services for rural multiracial and multicultural populations through educational and networking opportunities and community-based programs, including the Annual Rural Multiracial and Multicultural Health Conference.


Rural Training Track Technical Assistance Program

The Rural Training Track (RTT) Technical Assistance Program is a three year national demonstration program which began in September 2010. NRHA is currently a lead partner in the cooperative agreement that is supported by funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration's Office of Rural Health Policy.

A consortium that taps the expertise of individuals and programs distributed across the nation, the Rural Training Track (RTT) Technical Assistance Program is an effort to sustain the RTT residency programs as a national strategy in training physicians for rural practice.

For students interested in learning more about rural training check out these sites supported by the program:
Train Rural: Where the scope is broad and the focus is you
Train Rural blog: Real Stories from Rural Students and Residents
On Facebook® 

Border Health Initiative

NRHA has a new program with a special emphasis on ensuring quality health care services for rural Hispanic populations along the United States border. The Border Health Initiative is a new partnership between NRHA, the Migrant Clinicians Network, and the University of Texas Pan American Border Health Office, which will identify important border health issues and develop meetings, conferences, training materials, publications, and technical assistance and expertise to provide rural health professionals information on quality, access to primary health care and safety net providers.


Quality Initiative: quality through collaboration

The NRHA Rural Quality Initiative seeks to promote access to coordinated, high-quality care in every rural community. It’s a five-year plan designed to advance the goals of a November 2004 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report called "Quality Through Collaboration: The Future of Rural Health." The NRHA Quality Initiative was designed with the belief that rural health care providers can not only achieve high performance standards but can be leaders in the national quality movement. As such, NRHA offers an Annual Quality and Clinical Conference to keep providers updated on emerging information and research in the rural quality movement and recently published a manual entitled “What Makes Rural Healthcare Work.”


For additional information on NRHA programs, please contact Gabriela Boscan at

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