Michelle Rathman, nationally known rural health and community engagement strategist, speaker, and writer, is the new host of Rural Matters, effective September 1, 2018. Her debut episode will release on September 10 and feature guest Alan Morgan, President of the National Rural Health Association.

Rathman replaces Mara Casey Tieken who has been a superb host and an invaluable contributor to Rural Matters, helping the program become the leading podcast in the country focused on expanding the dialogue among stakeholders in the areas of education, health and business in rural communities. Since launching in September 2017, the podcast has reached nearly 5,000 downloads, and has attracted national sponsors such as the American Association of School Administrators (The School Superintendents Association) and the National Rural Education Association, along with marketing partners that include the National Rural Education Association; Center for Rural Affairs; Ohio Small and Rural Collaborative; Foundation for Rural Service; NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association; Harvard Graduate School of Education Rural Educators Alliance; Community Hospital Corporation; and Journal of Research in Rural Education. Rural Matters is available on iTunes. Google Play, and Stitcher.

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Angel Flight East’s Inspirational Transportation with Jess Ames and Greg Vallino

Listen to Angel Flight East’s Inspirational Transportation with Jess Ames and Greg Vallino

Michelle chats Jess Ames, director of outreach at Angel Flight East, an organization that provides free flights for patients who need medical treatment at a substantial distance from their home, and Greg Vallino, an optometrist who is a pilot for Angel Flight. Medically stable patients are eligible for the flight, for which there is absolutely no charge, according to Ames. For example, if a patient needs care that is best provided at a hospital, such as Shriner’s in Philadelphia, which specializes in particular diseases, air travel can be provided. In addition, Angel Flight East provides transportation services for patients who are so sick that they are not able to fly commercially as well as compassionate travel. The pilots for Angel Flight need 300 hours of actual flight time, notes Ames. Vallino speaks poignantly about the gratification he get from his service as a pilot. Under a program in its second year, Rural and Rare Outreach, Angel Flight East has established an initiative targeted to rural areas. This episode was sponsored by Angel Flight East, www.angelflighteast.org; Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, https://www.expandkancare.com; 3RNet, www.3Rnet.org; and Butler County ESC, www.bcesc.org.

Continuing Medical Education with Barbara Yawn and Eric Van Stone

Listen to Continuing Medical Education with Barbara Yawn and Eric Van Stone

Michelle chats with Barbara Yawn (“Dr. Barbara”), family physician and clinical researcher in the rural space and Eric Van Stone, founder and principal of Rural Medical Education Collaborative, a divisions of Talem Health, about the challenges facing rural health care providers today, including delivering care to patients without immediate access to care, particularly specialty care. Providers need to learn how to deliver care in a way they may not be used to, Yawn points out. That might include how to provide more with less, for example, through telehealth. One of the ways to engage busy rural primary clinicians about what’s happening today in health care is to make sure the information provided is practical and useful for both them and their patients, says Yawn. In general, Van Stone and Yawn notes, rural residents have higher rates of chronic diseases, including COPD, oncology, and diabetes, and mental illness than their urban counterparts. That requires a different population health approach, she says. For example, the environmental factors affecting rural patients might be quite different than those affecting urban patients. It’s critically important Yawn to provide preventative care in the rural setting. Finally, Van Stone notes, all the medical education his collaborative provides on a complimentary basis. This episode was sponsored by Angel Flight East, www.angelflighteast.org, the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, https://www.expandkancare.com/, and 3RNet, www.3Rnet.org.

Corporatizing Rural Education with Jason Cervone

Listen to Corporatizing Rural Education with Jason Cervone

Michelle chats with Jason Cervone about his new book, Corporatizing Rural Education, which emanated from his college dissertation. According to Cervone, education is increasingly being privatized and influenced by a corporate viewpoint that emphasizes preparing students for future careers.  At the heart of the concept of school choice and charter schools, he notes, is competition among students to earn a place in their school of choice, but for economic reasons, not all students really have that choice. Cervone also discusses the growing involvement of corporate philanthropy in education, with programs such as Teach for America, which does not necessarily inure to the benefit of rural education. Many Teach for America teachers do not stay in the education area, Cervone says. According to Cervone, when we substitute career education for the pursuit of education goals for 14- or 15-year-olds, it is sometimes limiting to the student. In rural America, he asks, are we trying to create a worker for an agricultural company or are we teaching that student about agriculture? In general, he says, rural schools actually may have an advantage in education because there’s a real opportunity for teachers to engage with their students. The bottom line, Cervone says, is the future of rural education would not look like the past, but it is unclear exactly what it will look like. This episode was sponsored by the Alliance for a Health Kansas, www.expandkancare.com, and Butler County Educational Service Center, www.bcesc.org

Strengthening Rural Hospitals with Sheldon Weisgrau

Listen to Strengthening Rural Hospitals with Sheldon Weisgrau

Michelle chats with Sheldon Weisgrau, senior policy advisor for the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, in the wake of a major report by CBS on the increasing number of rural hospital closures. Michelle and Sheldon discuss the fact that it is far more likely that hospitals in the 14 states (including Kansas) that have not expanded Medicaid coverage to experience closures than those in states who have expanded Medicaid coverage. Interesting fact: Kansas has more critical care hospitals than any other state; critical care is a significant element in determining hospital closures, Weisgrau notes. Another important element in determining closure involves unpaid compensation for services, according to Weisgrau; that is why, he says, we’re going through a second wave of closures, which is extremely troubling for local communities. More than 80 percent of the rural hospitals in Kansas are operating at a loss, he notes, which could be remediated through Medicaid expansion and innovation. Kansas and other similarly situated states are walking away from millions of dollars through a program that is primarily funded by the Federal Government, Sheldon and Michelle explain. This episode was sponsored by the Alliance for a Health Kansas, www.expandkancare.com, and Butler County Educational Service Center, www.bcesc.org

Personalizing Professional Education with Chris Brown and Kurt Koennecke

Listen to Personalizing Professional Education with Chris Brown and Kurt Koennecke

Michelle chats with Chris Brown, superintendent of the Butler County Educational Service Center in Butler County, Ohio, and Kirk Koennecke, superintendent of the Graham School District in Ohio and CEO of the Ohio Small and Rural Collaborative, about Educator Success, an app that enables teachers to interact with mentors who are not in same building and to access information for their own professional learning, which has particular applicability in the rural setting. Koennecke notes that as a former principal and current school district superintendent, he is acutely aware of the importance of human capital, especially in the rural setting. More than 75 percent of adults use apps on their phones, “so why wouldn’t we want teachers to tap into that [opportunity],” he says. The app makes the job of a district supervisor easier because the app documents the professional learning courses, certificates, and badges earned by staff, provides a platform for professional collaboration, and serves as a modeling tool for students. Brown notes that professional badges can be earned in STEM education, an area of increasing importance in K-12 education. Since launching this joint effort just over a year ago, the impact has been dramatic—teachers banked hours outside of regular workday and immediately put those ideas in to practice in the classroom, especially in the math area, where progress has been measureable. Teachers who are certified are teaching others, he adds. The app also has the potential for saving money in professional learning and there may be grants available to defray costs, Koennecke notes. This episode was sponsored by the Butler County Educational Service Center, www.bcesc.org