Meeting healthcare needs in rural and under-served areas requires innovative responses, said College of St. Scholastica President Dr. Colette Geary.

The College of St. Scholastica has been awarded a $1.4 million, two-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to fund through the Rural Academic Practice Partnership (RAPP) for Northeastern Minnesota. It’s one of 50 grants HRSA planned to award through the Advanced Nursing Education Workforce initiative, St. Scholastica said in a Friday announcement.

“RAPP is the culmination of ongoing collaboration between St. Scholastica and Essentia Health and will improve the region’s health and well-being. Meeting the healthcare needs in rural and under-served areas requires innovative responses. That is what the RAPP initiative epitomizes and it is an excellent fit with our mission,” said College of St. Scholastica President Dr. Colette Geary.

The RAPP initiative will improve access to care, quality of care, and ultimately health outcomes for people living in rural communities of northern and central Minnesota through enhanced placement of nurse practitioner students in rural settings and expanded educational opportunities for rural primary care providers. 

St. Scholastica said it will collaborate with Essentia Health to recruit preceptors and deliver professional development, expand student engagement in rural clinical experiences and incorporate training around relevant topics such as rural health needs, health disparities, diversity and cultural competence.

“Access to healthcare in rural America is dependent upon having great individuals who are engaged and understand the complexities of health in rural areas. This initiative will facilitate our organizations in building that engagement and understanding among our future professionals,” Essentia Health CEO Dr. David Herman said in the announcement.

St. Scholastica has the second-largest nursing program in Minnesota, with just over 1,000 students.