Tag Archives: The National Health Service Corps

K-Town


This week I began my rural rotation with the SEARCH scholarship program. This is a short-term experience offered (AND funded) by the Health Resources and Services Administration to give health care students the opportunity to decide if they want to work in rural health. Before I received my National Health Corps scholarship, I never knew so much about government health departments. Now I feel like they are a rich great-uncle I never knew I had. It’s almost enough to make me a Democrat. Whoa. Sit down, I said almost.

It’s Day 2 of the program and if I didn’t already want to work rural, I do now. I am living in an apartment in North Carolina with some other students and driving 45 minutes out to “K-town” (I don’t think privacy policies apply to entire towns but it feels better. Besides, it reminds me of British books where the characters lived in D-shire and traveled to B-ham). K-town is a small farming town that boasts a pretty river, a rich history, and an all-out fantastic community health center. The population is a poor one and the patients seen in this clinic often cannot pay, have limited transportation, and face multiple health risks.

Community Health Centers like the one in K-town accept patients with Medicare/Medicaid and also offer a sliding fee scale to match the patient’s income. But if the patient still can’t pay? They are still seen and treated. The facility itself has been recently renovated and offers family, pediatric, and OB-GYN services as well as dental and behavioral health services. This means that a lot of referrals are done in-house and consults are as easy as a knock on your neighbor’s door. I had the privilege of shadowing a very talented Certified Nurse Midwife as she examined patients from all sorts of backgrounds…and all very different from the Hawaii demographic. In some ways rural is rural. In other ways, they are worlds apart.

I left one side…

And a mere 17 hours later, I arrived on the other.

I’m enjoying the combination of a visit back to my southern roots and a taste of future practice. Before I left, my thoughts were fairly wedding centric. The day I flew out, we had a  wonderful Friday of Father-Daughter trousseau shopping (yes, Daddy Bill knows what a trousseau is and yes, he let Megan and I go into certain shops alone. But he was very helpful at the decent stores). And after a full day of flying, it was great fun to be with Lindsey and Whitney for a night discussing all things bridal. But the work I am doing now is turning my eyes to the future. Roger and I are excited to start life together and then find out where we will invest two years of that life! There is one rural community out there that God has our names on…and we can’t wait.

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Type Bee in New Orleans


Well, I said it before and I’ll say it again. God Bless 1972. I’m on a plane leaving New Orleans heading for a week with best friend Shayla. I won’t be posting this until Monday but The National Health Service Corps just got done rocking my world by telling me for 48 hours that I will rock my community’s world. They told me with videos, speakers, government representatives, free stuff, one-on-one conversations with amazing clinicians and future clinicians, and, did I already say free stuff? There were approximately 200 future physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, nurse midwives, and physician assistants all corralled together in the brand new Hyatt Regency (that’s right, first person in that hotel bed. Nice.)New Orleans for the purpose of being completely encouraged, inspired, and pumped UP to be Primary Care Providers in a community that needs us most. I haven’t made up my mind about whether I am more inspired to be an awesome life-changer or more scared stiff about the amount of work I have to do between now and being that life-changer. Actually, I know that it is both. And I need it because I am a Bee. Let me explain.

I have never put much stock in the “Type A” vs “Type B” descriptions but if I gotta choose, call me a Bee. Bees need some scared stiff. One of the keynote speakers was a very inspiring, extremely talented, intimidatingly successful former scholar and he told us that perfect is not an option but a mandate. Likely Type A Response: “Oh, good, I knew it was worth it to memorize the cranial nerves when I was 12 years old.” Real-life Type B Response: “Oh crap.”

Now, there were many other speakers who told us to achieve balance in our lives now because this will carry over into our professional lives. They told us to spend time with our families and to keep up with friends. That sounds great, but let’s get real, I can do balance. I exercise. I hang with the family. My friends don’t ever forget what I look like. I need some scared stiff.

Case in point: I worked my tail off to get all assignments finished before I took off on my trip. Except for the one paper that I completely overlooked. Likely Type A Response: Cry a little and then immediately compose the paper without so much as a potty break. Type Bee is sitting on an airplane writing as much as she can without having the internet to research and giving up and writing a blog instead. Don’t worry, she will finish it tonight.

I learned many wondrous and challenging things this weekend. I learned that I can do clinical rotations in far-away rural or urban American places. I learned about new models of healthcare that got me legitimately excited and I learned about professional opportunities that all of a sudden seem much more achievable. I met dozens of fellow scholars who were equally excited and scared. And get this, TONS of them follow Jesus. I’m talking 6 out of 10 kind of statistics. It makes sense that so many kids wanting to serve the unreached would be doing it with a sense of divine calling. This is pure and undefiled religion to care for the widows and orphans in their distress…and now we are getting generously funded to do so. I think we all walked around with the same dazed look of stunned gratitude as we listened to the conference staff talk about the resources at our disposal. Thank you Jesus.

So, God has lifted my head. Joy is coming in the morning…though there are tears on the airplane as I long to share every conversation, every quirky New Orleans moment with my mama. But my eternal purposes are many. And I am eager to accomplish them.

Starting with this paper. Call me a worker Type Bee.

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God Bless 1972


Yesterday I received an e-mail informing me that I had officially been awarded a National Health Services Corps Scholarship for the remainder of my graduate schooling. This scholarship sends me through school, all reasonable expenses paid, in return for two years of service. That’s right, military style. Minus the boot camp, uniforms, and scary things. In explanation, allow me to give you a brief history lesson.

             

Some of you may remember the 1970s. I do not. I think my memories kick in around 1986. But I do have a good appreciation for things from the 70s including macrame belts, paisley shirts, Carole King, James Taylor, and the Emergency Healthcare Personnel Act.

This last item was signed into law in 1972 when healthcare professionals began realizing that they could make a whole lot of money by specializing and joining HMOs and practicing in big cities or generally urban areas. If I were practicing in the 1970s and the HMOs became a thing, I very likely would have followed the trend. So, no hard feelings. In fact, thank you 1972. Because of the way you turned out, the government allotted a certain amount of money to entice hard-studying future doctors, dentists, and nurses to stay in the world of primary care, particularly in rural areas. Since then, Congress has given varying amounts of money to this program based on healthcare shortages or surpluses. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment in the last few years, the program is expanding again. And I have joined the ranks.

Basically, the two years of service will be doing exactly what I have wanted to do since I started nursing school – work with the under-served, rural community. The only catch is that it may or may not be in Hawaii. Apparently, it is quite the hairy process to become an approved site. There are only a handful of them in the state and there is no way of knowing if they will have a vacancy with my name on it in two years time. But I plan to work my tail off to find that vacancy.

But I’m not worried. God turned my attention to nursing five years ago when Mom needed nurses. He made me think I could be one of those nurses one day when I was on Ala Moana beach listening to someone I barely knew discuss her new career. Two years later, I got through all of the prerequisites for this insane program, finished the insane program, and have jumped in with both feet to Nurse Practitioner graduate classes. And right when I start asking God if he really meant to pick me, he throws this scholarship at me and says “what now!”. So even if I end up in the middle of the desert in the middle of the country serving the least of the least, I will still be sure that he meant to pick me.

Hey, he thought of me in 1972.

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