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Starting a Rural Health Clinic: DNP Graduate Develops Website to Help NPs

UL Grad School -- 05/05/2020

Elliot Myers is using his Doctor of Nursing Practice Synthesis Project to support nurse practitioners opening primary care clinics. Elliot Meyers Headshot

In his project he created a website template to provide nurse practitioners with information to assist them in establishing rural health clinics — including resources, tools, and strategies.

Elliot currently practices in a rural clinic and understands the demands of rural care. His project is poised to have far-reaching impacts.

“Nationally, there is a shortage of primary care providers, with an even greater shortage of primary care providers in rural areas,” Elliot explains. “Health outcomes for rural residents are worse in rural areas when compared to urban areas.”

“Rural residents have a higher incidence of chronic diseases, mental health issues, suicide rates when compared to urban areas. Therefore, there is a higher healthcare cost for rural residents, and a higher morbidity and mortality rate for these residents.”

Nurse practitioners with doctoral degrees are well-positioned to alleviate these gaps in care. However, with the potential to improve healthcare for rural communities come the challenges of owning and operating NP-led clinics.

As part of the project, Elliot interviewed NPs who had opened such clinics, and found that their process of learning on how to open a clinic was often through trial and error, and there was key information they wished they had access to.

“Even after opening their clinics, NPs are still searching for answers in the operation of their clinics,” he says. “Another surprise is that clinics have closed because NPs are not equipped to operate a business.”

Elliot Meyers with patientElliot, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at UL Lafayette, entered the DNP program with an eye on supporting healthcare in rural communities.

“I feel that with my doctorate, I can develop the tools needed to be an advocate for rural care and make positive contributions to NPs and rural care,” he says.

Pursuing his terminal degree at UL Lafayette was an easy decision. The DNP program is ranked No. 143 in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 edition of “Best Colleges” in the Doctor of Nursing Practice category.

“My degree has shaped my career to who I am today,” Elliot asserts. “My experience with several campus organizations in my time here have developed relationships and experiences I could not get anywhere else.”

With graduation on the horizon, Elliot isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. With his Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, he will continue to fully develop and make the website available while continuing to work in patient care, and also plans to explore options in academics and health policy advocacy.

Learn more about the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at UL Lafayette.