UIS receives $ 1.5 million to provide scholarships and increase rural mental health care


POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) – A $ 1.5 million investment from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health will help Idaho State University increase the number of mental health care providers in Idaho and improve the ‘access to health care in rural communities, through the creation of two new programs.

The ISU will accept the gift during the football game against the University of Idaho on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Holt Arena.

The Blue Cross of Idaho Behavioral Health and Accessibility Foundation Scholarships will provide up to 50 individual scholarships each year to Idaho students specializing in behavioral health programs available at ISU, including counseling, clinical psychopharmacology, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, clinical and social psychology. job.

The scholarships will also be available for accessibility-related majors, including sign language interpretation and students who major in Spanish for the health professions or who complete the Graduate Certificate in Spanish for them. health professions.

ISU’s Kasiska Health Sciences Division Development Director Ryan Gerulf points out that these scholarships inspire potential students to enroll in professions focused on mental health. Additional graduates will increase the number of mental health professionals in the state, as nearly 88% of recent ISU graduates have stayed in Idaho.

“This is essential to our healthcare education mission,” said VP of Health Sciences and Senior Vice President Rex Force. “Idaho ranks 49th in the country for mental health, based on the high prevalence of mental illness and low rates of access to care. We are extremely grateful to the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health for their financial support to our students. “

To help ISU students work and learn in rural clinical rotation sites throughout Idaho, the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health’s Rural Clinical Training Fellowships will help cover housing and d ‘other expenses for 50 students each year.

Eligible students must complete their education in rural Idaho with fewer than 10,000 residents and located at least 25 miles from ISU campuses in Pocatello or Meridian. Any clinical training completed on a federally recognized Native American tribal reserve is also eligible for this allowance.

“Two of our priorities at the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health are to remove barriers to education and address the skills shortage in rural areas of our state,” said Mike Reynoldson, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. . “These scholarships and stipends will help deserving students become future caregivers while providing much needed services in rural Idaho.”

As Idaho’s premier health care educational institution, the mission of the UIS’s Kasiska Health Sciences Division is to provide leadership in the delivery of rural health care in training caring and competent professionals in all aspects of health. Yet clinical placements have become more urbanized in recent years as students have chosen to receive their clinical training near ISU campuses.

In addition, due to the rising cost of living, many students are unable to afford four weeks of accommodation in a remote location on top of their usual living expenses. As a result, students are more reluctant to seize clinical internship opportunities in rural areas. As the cost of housing in Idaho rises, this challenge for rural placements will only be exacerbated in the future.

Force believes that the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health’s Rural Clinical Training Fellowships will be a game-changer for rural Idaho communities.

“Right now, many students who work and train in rural clinics, more than in urban settings, are often offered jobs after completing their studies. This means a direct influx of health care providers ready to provide care in these rural areas, a need often more acute than in urban areas. “

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