The purpose of the Georgia Rural-Health Outreach Workforce (GROW) Program is to provide PA students with an enhanced training experience in rural communities and increase the ability of rural primary care PAs to identify and address the health disparities in their community. For students, the Morehouse School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program will add a Rural Health Care Track (RHCT) that provides focused learning and activities by placing students in clinical rotations in rural Georgia and Kentucky. For certified PAs, GROW will provide an innovative training program in integrated primary care, behavioral health, and social determinants of health. Further, GROW will develop a pipeline for prospective PA students from rural communities to increase the likelihood that they will return to their own or similar communities to practice medicine. The PA RHCT Training Program will recruit and matriculate 50 PA students over the course of the five-year program and train 500 PAs including 34 preceptors in integrated primary care. Preceptor sites for the first year of the program will be in Baker and Dooly counties in Georgia and Madison and Laurel counties in Kentucky. Each of these clinical sites is designated as rural as determined by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy via its Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer. MSM has already formed partnerships with rural healthcare organizations in Tennessee for future program expansion. There are three unique attributes to this proposed project: 1) MSM has developed a Rural Health Care Track. To ensure that we fill the RHCT track each year with 10 students, we will recruit students into the track via the admissions process. A full-time PA recruiter will target rural communities to identify potential applicants and encourage them to pursue a course of study at MSM’s PA Program in its RHCT. 2) In November 2021, Morehouse School of Medicine and CommonSpirit Health announced a 10-year, $100 mil
lion partnership and the first nationwide initiative to address the underlying causes of health equity, including underrepresentation of Black clinicians. The partnership will lay the foundation for patients to have more access to Black clinicians and for Black medical students and graduates to gain community-based experience. Additionally, it will allow MSM to increase the pipeline of students recruited from underserved rural communities. This partnership will also provide unprecedented career opportunities for PA students to eventually work in underserved and rural communities throughout the nation upon graduation. 3) This project will train certified primary care PAs practicing in the southeastern United States to address health inequities, health disparities, and social determinants of health in the communities they serve. This student PA and PA preceptor training program is grounded in a public health/behavioral health framework, including social determinants of health, population health, integrated care, health promotion and disease management, leadership, quality improvement, policy reform and cultural/linguistic competence. The program will leverage training activities from MSM’s Satcher Health Leadership/Kennedy Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity, Integrated Care Leadership Program (ICLP) for students and preceptors. The program includes on-line training in integrated care: Transformative Leadership, Clinical Practice Skills and Sustainability; Virtual Clinic Site Visits, Monthly Coaching Sessions and Technical Assistance. As a new program, MSM’s PA Training program qualifies for the funding preference as we meet four of the seven required criteria.