Expanding regional services through education and distance learning:
The North Country Learning Center will bring health professions education and training to rural communities. This will allow rural residents to pursue the required training with little, if any, travel required. It will also allow current health professional students to complete their training in rural communities, and in so doing deliver quality healthcare to rural residents. When health professional students live, work, and immerse themselves in rural life they gain the necessary tools required to be successful rural healthcare providers. Evidence shows that students from rural areas, or those that had a long-term meaningful training engagement, are far-more likely to practice in a rural setting, and to deliver better and more culturally appropriate care.
Learning Center Goals
The overarching objectives of the project are to provide:
a. Youth academic enrichment and career exploration programs
North Country HealthCare currently provides health professions ‘pipeline’ activities and programs across northern Arizona. The Learning Center will allow North Country to expand these opportunities to students throughout northern Arizona. The youth academic enrichment and career exploration component of the project anticipates assisting and instructing 500 students annually.
b. AT Still University School of Medicine Arizona
Over the past four years a new model for medical education has been developed between AT Still University and the National Association of Community Health Centers. This new medical school, School of Osteopathic Medicine-Arizona, is a decentralized learning model with an enhanced Community Health Center training focus where students will learn in a small group setting. Ten Community Health Centers from across the United States were chosen as campuses of this new medical school, with North Country HealthCare being one of them.
Students spend the first year at the Mesa campus. In years two, three, and four students will move to one of ten Community Health Centers to complete the remainder of their training. The North Country Learning Center network will allow medical students to be placed in rural communities but still connect to the Flagstaff hub and academic programs. This will begin in the fall 2008, at which time the first cohort of 10 students will begin training at the North Country Learning Center. During this time students will take part in a comprehensive community-based team-learning experience, including classroom work, primary care clinical experience, and affiliated specialty rotations. In subsequent years 10 additional students will begin work at North Country HealthCare, with a maximum of 30 (10 2nd year, 10 3rd year, and 10 4th year medical students). The medical education and health professions training component of this project will educate 30 students yearly.
c. Health professions workforce development for youth through adults
Through distance learning classrooms, on-site education and computer labs, the North Country Learning Center will be able to expand Allied Health education programs to regions where such instruction was not previously available. Students will be able to receive training without leaving their communities or only leaving for minimal times. The workforce development component of this project will instruct 200 students in Allied health career fields each year.
d. Continuing Education/ Continuing Medical Education for practicing health professionals
The North Country Learning Center will be able to meet the CE/CME training needs of health professionals across northern Arizona. The continuing medical education component of this project will provide educational opportunities and content to 500 working professionals annually.
e. Community Education and Wellness programs
North Country HealthCare will conduct a number of community education and wellness programs in the Learning Center. Events and programs will be held in a myriad of topics in most need, such as Diabetes education, Infant and Adult First Aid and CPR, Well-Baby education, and various other outreach and education efforts. In addition, the Learning Center will also be accessible and available to other community members and organizations for education and wellness events and programs. The community education and wellness component of this project will support 1000 community members each year.
Though telemedicine will not be directly practiced within the North Country Learning Center, the network infrastructure, personnel and support equipment housed in the building will provide direct access to the Arizona Telemedicine Network. This access will allow for new and innovative care to be practiced by North Country staff throughout our region in places where such continuity of care was previous not available. The Telemedicine component of this project will provide consultation and care to 350 people a year.