2024 Annual Rural Health Awards Nominations Closing Soon

Have you submitted your nominations for the 2024 Annual Rural Health Awards? Each year the Rural Health Association of Tennessee recognizes individuals and groups of individuals from across the state of Tennessee who have dedicated themselves to the service of others within the field of rural healthcare. 

2024 Nominations are now open! Deadline to submit nominations is August 1, 2024.

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Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

Juvenile Arthritis (JA) refers to a range of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can affect children under the age of 16. These diseases cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, and can impact a child’s growth and overall development. Unlike adult arthritis, which is often associated with wear and tear of the joints, JA is primarily an autoimmune condition where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. There are several types of juvenile arthritis, including juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), juvenile dermatomyositis, juvenile lupus, and juvenile scleroderma, among others.

July is designated as Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, a time dedicated to increasing public awareness about these conditions and the challenges faced by children and families affected by JA. The primary goal of this month is to educate the public about the early signs and symptoms of juvenile arthritis, as early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for managing the disease and preventing long-term damage. Public health campaigns and community events during this month aim to disseminate information, provide support, and promote understanding of JA.

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Men's Health Grant Report

In 2021, Rural Health Association of Tennessee (RHA) received a contact from Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), Office of Minority Health, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA).

The service goal of this contract was to improve the health of people in rural Tennessee by providing activities for COVID-19 advocacy, communication, and health education. As part of the strategy to provide accurate education regarding COVID-19, vaccinations, and overall population health improvement, RHA contracted with the Men’s Health Network of Tennessee (MHN) to develop and disseminate a Certified Men’s Health Educator training.

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The Tennessee Area Health Education Center Scholars Program

The Tennessee Area Health Education Center (TN AHEC) Scholars Program is part of a national initiative to prepare tomorrow’s health professionals to become leaders in inter-professional, transformative practice settings, and to serve in areas and populations with the greatest needs.

TN AHEC is currently accepting applications for the 2024-2026 cohort at all regional locations for the Tennessee Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Scholars Program: Central (Nashville); Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC); East and Southeast (Knoxville/Chattanooga); Cherokee Health Systems and West (Memphis); Christ Community Health Services.

The TN AHEC Program promotes a coordinated approach to education and training for graduate level health professions students with the knowledge and skills to provide culturally competent, quality health care services, especially in rural and medically underserved areas. 

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Men's Health Month

Men's Health Month, observed every June, plays a crucial role in raising awareness about health issues affecting men and boys. This dedicated month serves as a pivotal time to encourage early detection and treatment of diseases more prevalent among men, such as heart disease, cancer, and mental health disorders. The aim is to foster health consciousness and encourage men to adopt healthier lifestyles. By focusing on preventive care and regular check-ups, Men’s Health Month seeks to reduce the gap in health outcomes between genders, given that men, statistically, are less likely to seek medical attention and more likely to suffer from serious health conditions at younger ages.

One of the central themes of Men's Health Month is promoting regular medical check-ups. Men are often conditioned to avoid doctors and disregard symptoms until they become severe. This cultural stigma can lead to late diagnoses of conditions that could have been managed more effectively with early intervention. For instance, prostate cancer, one of the most common cancers among men, has a significantly better prognosis if detected early. Regular screenings and health assessments can lead to early detection of many issues, thereby improving the chances of successful treatment and reducing healthcare costs in the long run.

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Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Skin Cancer Awareness Month, observed each May, is a crucial campaign aimed at educating the public about the dangers of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States. This month-long initiative is spearheaded by organizations such as the American Academy of Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Foundation. It emphasizes the importance of early detection and prevention, providing valuable information on how to recognize the signs of skin cancer and the steps one can take to protect their skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The campaign highlights that skin cancer, though highly prevalent, is also one of the most preventable and treatable cancers when detected early.

Understanding the types of skin cancer is a key component of Skin Cancer Awareness Month. The three primary types are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common and less aggressive, but melanoma, though less common, is far more dangerous and can be deadly if not caught early. Public education during this month focuses on recognizing the symptoms of these cancers, such as new growths, changes in existing moles, or any skin changes that persist and do not heal. Early detection through regular skin examinations can significantly improve the prognosis for individuals with skin cancer.

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National Women's Health Week

National Women's Health Week, observed annually in May, serves as a crucial reminder of the significance of women's well-being. It's a dedicated time for women of all ages to prioritize their health by scheduling check-ups, screenings, and engaging in healthy habits. This initiative aims to empower women to take control of their health, encouraging them to make informed decisions about their bodies and lifestyles.

The importance of National Women's Health Week lies in its emphasis on prevention and early detection of health issues specific to women. From reproductive health to heart disease and mental health, women face unique challenges that require tailored care. By promoting regular health screenings and encouraging healthy behaviors, this week-long event plays a pivotal role in reducing the prevalence of preventable diseases and improving overall health outcomes for women.

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Register for Partners in Policymaking

Partners in Policymaking is now accepting applications for the 2024-25 class!

Partners in Policymaking® is a FREE leadership and advocacy training program from the TN Council on Developmental Disabilities.  

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Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month, observed throughout May, serves as a crucial platform to educate, raise awareness, and reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues. It offers an opportunity for individuals, communities, and organizations to come together to promote understanding and support for those struggling with mental health challenges.

One of the primary goals of Mental Health Awareness Month is to destigmatize mental health conditions and encourage open conversations about mental well-being. By shedding light on the prevalence of mental illness and emphasizing that it is a natural part of the human experience, the month seeks to empower individuals to seek help without fear of judgment or discrimination. Through advocacy efforts and sharing personal stories, people are encouraged to recognize the importance of prioritizing mental health care and seeking support when needed.

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RHA findhelp May 101 and 102 Trainings

Join RHA Regional Liaisons for our May findhelp 101 and 102 trainings. The two part training will teach nonprofits, government, healthcare, and education sectors how findhelp is working to connect people seeking help with services across Tennessee.

Introduction to (101)
Tuesday, May 14, 2024
1:00pm- 2:00pm CST/ 2:00pm-3:00pm EST
Training Objectives:
  • How to search for and connect people to resources
  • How to send and track your referrals
  • How to claim your program and join the findhelp network
  • How to become certified


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2024 Middle Tennessee Regional Event

Tuesday, April 23rd, we had the opportunity to host our last regional event of the season at Fall Creek Falls State Park and see our middle region members. Members had the opportunity to hear from professionals on topics including MAT in Emergency Department Settings, current drug trends, social drivers of health, and more!

The presentation topics and speakers can be found below:

  • Addressing Social Drivers of Health findhelp This presentation discusses why addressing social drivers of health and why understanding social determinants are essential for creating equitable health systems and fostering healthier communities overall. Access full presentation here.
  • Naloxone Training Suzanne Angel, ROPS Join us to learn from the Middle Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist about administering naloxone and further prevention efforts. Access full presentation here.
  • MAT in Emergency Department Settings Kayla Mehr, TDMHSAS Join us as we talk with Kayla Mehr about MAT in the Emergency Department Settings. Access to full presentation can be found here.
  • Suicide Prevention Melissa Alardo, TDH Join us as we talk about suicide prevention and its correlation to SUD. Access full presentation here
  • TDH & RHA Programs and Updates Join us as we go over current program updates with not only the Rural Health Association but the Tennessee Department of Health. Access full presentation here.

Perscription Drug Take-Back Day

Prescription Drug Takeback Day plays a crucial role in addressing the public health crisis of prescription drug abuse and misuse. Unused or expired prescription medications pose significant risks when left in homes, as they can be accessed by unauthorized individuals, including children, teenagers, and individuals with substance use disorders. Prescription Drug Takeback Day provides a safe and convenient way for individuals to dispose of these medications properly, reducing the likelihood of diversion, accidental ingestion, and environmental contamination.

Furthermore, Prescription Drug Takeback Day helps prevent prescription drug abuse by removing unused medications from circulation. Research has shown that a significant portion of prescription drug abuse begins with medications obtained from family members or friends, often without their knowledge. By encouraging individuals to safely dispose of unused medications, Takeback Day reduces the availability of prescription drugs for misuse and helps prevent the initiation of substance use disorders, particularly among young people who may experiment with prescription medications.

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Advocacy Win for Rural Health

Governor Lee’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 – 2025 budget included proposed funding for most of the Rural Health Task Force's recommendations. 

We are happy to share that the appropriations bill passed by Tennessee's 113th General Assembly. The table below outlines the approved rural health care initiatives, funding for FY 2024 – 2025. 

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May 2024 RHC Lunch and Learn: Moving the Needle of Change - Caring for Patients with Opioid Use Disorder in Tennessee

May 22, 2024 RHC Lunch and Learn: Moving the Needle of Change - Caring for Patients with Opioid Use Disorder in Tennessee 

Speaker: Kayla Williams Mehr, PMHNP | MOUD Clinical Specialist with Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS)

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National Infant Immunization Week

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is a vital campaign that emphasizes the significance of timely vaccination for infants and young children. Immunization during early childhood is crucial for protecting against vaccine-preventable diseases, safeguarding individual health, and promoting community immunity. NIIW provides a dedicated platform to raise awareness about the importance of infant immunization, educate parents and caregivers about vaccination schedules, and encourage healthcare providers to prioritize immunization efforts.

One of the primary objectives of National Infant Immunization Week is to ensure that infants and young children receive the recommended vaccines according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Vaccination schedules are carefully designed to provide protection against a range of infectious diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella, polio, pertussis, and influenza. By adhering to these schedules and ensuring that infants receive their vaccinations on time, NIIW helps prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases and reduces the risk of outbreaks in communities.

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TN-RHC Network Annual Meeting - June 2024

Rural Health Association of Tennessee is excited to host the Tennessee Rural Health Clinic (TN-RHC) Network Annual Meeting on Tuesday, June 25, 2024 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The meeting will cover RHC specific topics such as TennCare Updates, Emergency Preparedness, Compliance (Survey Tips and Strategies), Social Determinants of Health (data collection, coding and reporting), Quality Improvement projects, and more!

Location: The View at the Fountains, Murfreesboro, TN
Time: 8:30am - 4:15pm CST
Cost: Free for RHC Network Members/$50 for Non-Members.

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Healthy Smiles Student Loan Repayment Program

The Healthy Smiles Student Loan Repayment Program provides educational loan repayment to qualified dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants in exchange for a service obligation to practice full-time at dental clinics located in medically underserved areas. 

  • Dentists receive up to $300,000 for a 3-year service obligation
  • Hygienists receive up to $50,000 for a 2-year service obligation
  • Dental assistants receive up to $20,000 for a 2-year service obligation

 Practitioner Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Must be a United States citizen or permanent resident. 
  • Must be licensed to practice in Tennessee (dentists/hygienists). 
  • Must agree to use the Tennessee Dental Repayment Incentive Program funds only to repay qualifying educational loans. 
  • Must have no obligation for health professional services and have not breached a health professional contract. 
  • Must agree to pay damages for breach of service. 
  • Must not have a judgment lien against his/her property for a debt to the United States, any federal debt written off as non-collectible, or any federal service or payment obligation waived. 
  • Must be willing to commit to a service agreement contract for a minimum of three (3) years for dentists, and two (2) years for hygienists and assistants. 
  • Must provide services in a rural or medically underserved area of Tennessee.
  • Must work full-time. 
For the Application and more information, click here.

2024 Spring Regional Events

Regional events are an opportunity to learn more about our RCORP program. Register for your region to hear more about substance use disorder, mental health, and Rural Health Association program updates. Lunch will be provided to in-person attendees. 

Cost: Free for members | $25 for non-members; a networking lunch will be included.

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Tennessee Brighter Futures: Criminal Justice Resources

Brain Links is sharing a brief set of Criminal Justice resources as part of our Tennessee Brighter Futures (TBF) Collaborative. The TBF mission is Building brighter futures for Tennesseans by improving how systems of support collaborate to identify, educate and serve people with co-occurring needs.

Below is a snapshot of Criminal Justice Resources:

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2024 West Tennessee Regional Event

Tuesday, April 9th, we had the opportunity to host our regional event at Paris Landing State Park and see our west region members. Members had the opportunity to hear from professionals on topics including MAT in Corrections, current drug trends, social drivers of health, and more. 

The presentation can be found below:

  • Naloxone Training Melesa Lassiter & Jennifer Watkins, ROPS  In this presentation we learn from the West Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist about administering naloxone and further prevention efforts. Find the full presentation here.
  • MAT in Corrections Kristen Zak, TDH In this presentation we talk with Kristen Zak about the MAT in corrections pilot program she has been managing in East TN the last two years. Find the full presentation here.
  • Addressing Social Drivers of Health findhelp In this presentation we discuss why addressing social drivers of health and why understanding social determinants are essential for creating equitable health systems and fostering healthier communities overall. Find the full presentation here.
  • TDH & RHA Programs and Updates In this presentation we go over current program updates with not only the Rural Health Association but the Tennessee Department of Health. Find the full presentation here.