National Rural Health Association

NRHA's 2017 Rural Health Policy Institute

Constituency Groups

To accommodate our diverse membership, NRHA asks its members to affiliate with its constituency groups. NRHA's broad membership represents people from a variety of professions and interests, including doctors, nurses, administrators, clinicians, non-physician providers, academicians, researchers, mental health care providers, hospitals, students and many other subgroups. All of these individuals and organizations bring their own interests and agendas to our common goal of ensuring affordable and accessible quality health care for rural populations. Learn more in this Q&A from one of NRHA’s constituency group chairs.

Through its constituency groups, NRHA is structured to represent these individual concerns as well as the more encompassing interests of the entire membership. Each group elects a chair to serve on NRHA's Board of Trustees and Rural Health Policy Board. In addition, constituency groups are allowed one representative on the Rural Health Policy Board for each 50 affiliated votes, with the chair representing the first 100 votes.

Individual members of NRHA have one vote, while organizational and supporting members have two, which can be split between more than one constituency group. Individuals can affiliate with more than one constituency group but can vote in only one. The individual interests and agendas are then given a voice in the leadership of NRHA, helping to determine its policies and direction.

There are currently ten recognized constituency groups within NRHA, and several more are in formation. Click on any of the constituency groups listed below to find out more. To join a constituency group, send an e-mail to or click here to enter your preferred CG directly into your profile.

Forming Constituency Groups

Clinical Services CG

Roger D. Wells
Saint Paul, Neb.

This group represents interests in clinical issues, including proprietary and non-proprietary practices.

Federally Qualified Health Centers CG 

Tim Shryack
Ava, Mo. 65608

NRHA members working or interested in rural federally qualified health centers (FQHC) are served by this group. Members in this CG focus on interests and issues regarding policy, regulation and collaboration with other health care organizations of concern to FQHCs.

Frontier CG

Patrick Joseph Branco
Rugby, N.D.

The health care interests and issues of NRHA members working or living in sparsely-populated areas are served by this group. Members come from all areas-hospitals, medical practices, public health nurses, emergency medical technicians, state health organizations, research and more.

Their common bond is ensuring access to health care in areas with a population density of less than six people per square mile where there can be great distances to facilities. The group works with others to alert members of their concerns with pending legislation and laws and regulations already in effect that can adversely affect frontier areas.

Hospitals and Health Systems CG
Susan Starling
Irvine, Ky.

This group is NRHA's largest, representing anyone affiliated with rural hospitals or hospitals with significant interest in rural areas.

Public Health CG

Alana Knudson
Bethesda, Md.

This group represents members interested in public health, defined by the Institute of Medicine as "organized community efforts aimed at the prevention of disease and promotion of health." Public Health is often described as three core functions: assessing the health needs of a population, developing policies to meet these needs, and assuring that services are always available and organized to meet challenges at the individual and community levels.

Ultimately, rural communities should have access to the same protective measures afforded by the public health system as their urban counterparts. As stated by the Institute of Medicine in their seminal 1988 report, The Future of Public Health, "no citizen from any community, no matter how small or remote, should be without identifiable and realistic access to the benefits of public health protection, which is possible only through a local component of the public health delivery system." How these services are provided and specific priorities may differ, but access to public health services should be equitable.

Recognizing that change occurs at the community level, this group works to ensure that public health policy is well informed and addresses rural population needs by promoting access to public health services and tangible improvements in the community's overall health status.

Research and Education CG
John A. Gale
Portland, Maine.

The Research and Education Constituency Group is one of NRHA's largest. Its membership includes practitioners and scientists located at academic medical centers as well as persons involved in health professions education in rural communities. These individuals include community-based faculty, who teach clinical practice to rotating and regionally based health professions students, as well as administrative and support staff who make such important work possible. Area Health Education Centers are well represented among the membership as are the nation's Rural Health Research Centers.

Among our more important activities are the management of several sessions at NRHA's Annual National Conference; co-sponsorship of other educational conferences throughout the year, along with other constituency groups and the association; and support for The Journal of Rural Health, which is published by NRHA. As active members of the Rural Health Policy Board, our representatives have authored or co-authored a number of the association's issues papers on public policy. We invite and encourage input from NRHA members interested in health professions education or research designed to enhance our understanding of rural health issues.



Rural Health Clinics CG

Michelle Mills
Aurora, Colo.

NRHA's Rural Health Clinics Constituency Group is comprised of health care professionals and others who are interested in encouraging the delivery of quality primary care services in rural areas and in the development, organization, operations, regulation, reimbursement, support and success of federally designated Rural Health Clinics. These clinics are designed to provide primary health care services in medically underserved areas or health professional shortage areas.

This constituency strives to:

  • enhance the knowledge and skills of rural health clinics providers and their organizations,
  • promote the delivery and enhancement of quality primary health care services to rural Americans through rural health clinics, and
  • be an advocate for the success of rural health clinics, their providers and staff, and the health care services they provide.

The Rural Health Clinics Constituency Group will achieve these goals through:

  • improved communication among rural health clinic professionals,
  • creation of opportunities for discussion, debate and learning,
  • member services designed to assist and promote the delivery of quality care and the success of rural health clinics,
  • advocacy for regulatory issues necessary to the success and survival of rural health clinics, and
  • preparing members for the changing world of health care, especially its structure and reimbursement.

The constituency group is designed to be member-driven to directly address members' needs and the issues important to them by encouraging maximum member involvement.

Statewide Health Resources CG

Patricia A. Crawford
Lewisburg, W.Va. 

The Statewide Health Resources Constituency Group is comprised of NRHA members interested in building or strengthening statewide rural health care to improve workforce, access and resources. Its membership is a diverse group who strives to develop collaboration and communication to foster statewide partnerships.

Student CG

Julie Middleton
Bozeman, Mt.

This group is comprised of student members, whose input is very important to NRHA since they are the future workforce and leaders in rural America. As a member of the Student CG, students can come together with their peers, educators, administrators, health professionals and other stakeholders to dialogue about rural health and its related issues such as workforce and policy.






Forming constituency groups 

In order to become a recognized constituency group within NRHA, a group of members with a specific interest must gather 75 signatures of members willing to affiliate with that constituency. The group can then petition the Board of Trustees for provisional status. When provisional status is granted, the constituency then has one year in which to increase its membership to 100 to gain full recognition as a constituency group.

In addition to the constituency groups already within NRHA, members are considering forming several others. For information on these forming constituencies, contact NRHA at 4501 College Boulevard #225, Leawood, KS 66211; (816) 756-3140; 

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