Preparing Health Professions Students to Serve Southern Rural Communities in the Time of COVID-19 and Beyond: A Model for Interprofessional Online Telehealth Education

Authors: Teri Browne, PhD, Selina H. McKinney, PhD, Lauren Duck, MPH, Elizabeth W. Blake, PharmD, Beverly Baliko, PhD, Sara English, PhD, Rebecca Christopher, MSW


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on southern rural communities1–4 and requires an interdisciplinary workforce prepared to address the unique and holistic needs of people in these communities. Telehealth, long used to improve services for people living in rural areas,5,6 has rapidly and significantly expanded because of COVID-19.7–10 There is an urgent need to train health professions students in telehealth skills to prepare them to deliver virtual care, especially in rural communities.11–13 As universities quickly moved to online instruction in 2020, student telehealth training models were needed that can be delivered virtually. Ideally, this training should be interprofessional, with two or more health science disciplines learning about, from, and with one another.14
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