Remaking Rural Health: A KET Special Report

Deploy Health-Care Providers in New Ways: University of Louisville Glasgow Family Residency Program | Geri Hatfield, Nurse Practitioner, Hilltop Primary Care

With 81 of Kentucky’s 120 counties considered “provider shortage” areas, the UofL Glasgow Family Residency Program focuses on training new physicians who will practice in rural Kentucky.

“I think residents are attracted to our program because we’re in a rural area. And the community is focused on patient care in a way that’s very similar to what many of our participants grew up with,” Brent Wright, MD and program director, says.

While the program may have an old-fashioned appeal, the program is changing rural medicine by teaching residents to move beyond the idea of the “country doctor” who practices in isolation.

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“We don’t allow residents to adopt the mindset that they’re the doctor and that’s that. Rather than thinking about individuals in health care, it’s all about a team and how that team focuses on the patient.”

According to Wright and other experts, part of creating that team is making certain that all health-care providers are providing the highest level of care their licenses allow.

“We really have to examine everyone’s roles—nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, physician’s assistants—and make sure everyone is operating at the maximum point of their role.”

Geri Hatfield is a nurse in Phelps, in far eastern Kentucky, who treats 90 percent of the residents in the community, often times multiple generations from the same family. According to Hatfield, there is a great need for time-intensive patient education and care navigation.

“I do lots of teaching,” Hatfield says. “Especially in this town, patients have not had a lot of teaching about prevention and management, and they typically don’t trust people in health care. I bridge that gap. It’s not that physicians don’t want to provide that type of care, but they often don’t have the time.”

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Remaking Rural Health: A KET Special Report is a KET production, Laura Krueger, producer, and is funded, in part, by a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.