Every year, the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) selects a cohort of 10 to 15 individuals to join its prestigious Rural Health Fellows program. The aim of the yearlong training program is to develop and support leaders who are dedicated to improving the health of rural Americans through their educational, professional, and advocacy experience.
Lindsay Corcoran, Senior Healthcare Consultant at Stroudwater Associates, was chosen as one of the 2020 NRHA Rural Health Fellows. In the competitive application process, Corcoran stood out because of her work toward increasing access to equitable healthcare in rural communities and championing financial, operational, and quality improvement across rural healthcare organizations.
During the Rural Health Fellows program, Corcoran attended monthly training sessions and met with academic leaders, advocacy groups, and state representatives and senators during her time at the NRHA Policy Institute in 2020. She received guidance from NRHA leaders and their affiliated rural health advocacy groups while researching key rural health issues and developing policy recommendations for federal and state legislators.
Corcoran and two other fellows, Catherine Clary, JD, Director at the Center for Rural Health Support and Study at Augusta University and Sarah Brinkman, MBA, MA, Program Manager at Stratis Health, authored a policy brief, “Rural Obstetric Unit Closures and Maternal and Infant Health,” outlining the drivers of rural obstetric unit closures and recommended policy changes.
“During the NRHA fellowship, I pursued rural obstetrics because it’s a topic that I’m passionate about,” said Corcoran. “I looked at it from the perspective of provider shortages, which affects a women’s access to safe OB services and prenatal care. Historically, family practice physicians would provide OB services to patients within rural areas, but now many in that sub-specialty of family practice doctors are retiring, and nobody is replacing them. We wanted this policy paper to highlight the workforce challenges to representatives and recommend policies for their support that would help improve access to OB services within rural communities going forward.”
The policy brief included specific policy suggestions to address problems such as rural hospitals’ financial constraints, the closure of rural OB programs, and rural maternal care workforce shortages.
“We looked at both financial and workforce support,” said Corcoran. “If federal and state governments can direct more money to support some of these programs, like expanding the Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women or providing malpractice insurance supplements to rural providers, then that will support opportunities for improved access. And if we can provide additional support for providers to stay or start working in rural healthcare, whether that’s through loan repayments or advanced training programs or incentives to practice in rural, we can address ongoing recruitment and retention challenges.”
Congratulations to Lindsay and the other 2020 NRHA Rural Health Fellows!
Learn more about Stroudwater’s expertise working with rural healthcare organizations.