LSU Educates Health Care Providers Specifically for Rural Areas

April 05, 2021

Fighting Rural Health Disparities

Across the state, LSU is working to provide more and better healthcare for rural residents. From New Orleans to Shreveport, several university programs educate care providers specifically to help fight health disparities.

LSU Health New Orleans has a track for future dentists planning to work in non-metropolitan areas, and its nurse anesthetist program is graduating dozens of certified care providers each year who, in rural hospitals that cannot afford on-site anesthesiologists, are essential to a range of key services, including surgery and childbirth. LSU Health Shreveport, meanwhile, offers a rare dual residency for emergency medicine and family medicine—one of only three such residencies in the nation, and ideal for doctors wanting to provide all-in-one care in areas with limited access to other resources—as well as a dedicated rural residency program. And from LSU’s main campus in Baton Rouge, Professor of Social Work Scott Wilks leads a $3.5 million workforce development effort fueled by federal grants to improve rural access to mental health and behavioral health services in Louisiana, especially among the elderly. Also, through an ongoing collaboration between LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the LSU AgCenter, researchers are conducting a five-year study to help explain how two seemingly similar rural Louisiana parishes can have vastly different health outcomes—their goal is to turn new research findings into actionable data for rural communities across the state, to help improve residents’ health on their own terms.

Hannah Broussard chose the Rural Scholars Track at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry because she wanted to help people in smaller Louisiana communities, like where she’s from, near Breaux Bridge:

“I’ve seen, in my own family, how access to dental care can have a huge effect on quality of life and your confidence and your ability to eat and speak and communicate, and that’s a big part of who we are.”

Hannah Broussard

Hannah Broussard

– LSU

“At our hospital in Bogalusa, you never know who is coming through the door. It can be a woman in labor one minute and a dire surgical emergency the next. Because there is no on-site anesthesiologist, our nurse anesthetists have to be ready for anything—and they are. If not for them, our hospital would not be able to provide the range of services we now do. Having LSU Health New Orleans nurse anesthesia students come work with us is a win-win.”

- Dr. Richard Karlin, Chief of Surgery at Our Lady of the Angels Hospital in Bogalusa, Louisiana, which last year was named a Leapfrog Top Rural Hospital—1 of 19 in the nation