Rural Health Scholars serve others over spring break

Instead of spending spring break resting or going on vacation, students from Dixie State University, Southern Utah University and Snow College helped others in meaningful, medical ways when 46 students traveled with the Rural Health Scholars Program to underserved communities in the Four Corners area, Nicaragua and Las Vegas. Dixie State student Rachel Seegmiller attended the Four Corners trip and realized, “as a future healthcare provider, you have to learn to be able to work with people from all different backgrounds and all kinds of philosophies.” She added that she especially loved shadowing Navajo physicians to see their perspective and how much they connect with their patients. During the week, students stayed in Blanding but traveled as far as Monument Valley to shadow healthcare providers with Utah Navajo Health Services. The goal of the immersion experience was to expose students to what it is like to practice medicine in a rural community with Native American populations. Several students ventured out of the country to experience rural areas of Nicaragua, where they assisted in health clinics with impoverished populations. Students who participated in the trip are pursuing careers in medicine, so it is important that they gain experience in serving others with different cultural and economic backgrounds. Through four days of health screenings in rural Nicaragua, they experienced quite a culture shock and learned so much in the process. “The health problems that Nicaraguans have are so different … there were a lot of issues due to parasites or dehydration, which are things we don’t usually have to deal with in the U.S.,” Southern Utah University student Vanessa VanWart said. Rita Osborn, director of the Utah Center for Rural Health, accompanied the students on a trip to Las Vegas, where her hope is that “students learn what it is like to live and work in an urban, underserved healthcare setting.” During this trip, students performed health screenings with homeless populations, shadowed healthcare providers and even toured Nellis Air Force base to observe healthcare provider life in the military.  In addition,students volunteered at various organizations including Shade Tree Women’s Shelter, 3 Square, Operation Clean the World, Opportunity Village, and a LBGTQ center. Dixie State students who participated in these trips included Jace Buxton, Nathan Utley, John Schumway, Tadreena Joe, Rachel Seegmiller, Kaden Jordan, Ashley Holiday, Hayden Crane, and Logan Passey. All students are involved in the Rural Health Scholars Program, from which they receive support to succeed in their journey to a healthcare career. The Rural Health Scholars Program is available at Southern Utah University, Dixie State University, Snow College, and Utah State University-Eastern in Price. Through a partnership with the University of Utah School of Medicine, this program assists students in becoming successful applicants to medical, nursing, podiatry, dental, pharmacy and other health professions programs. Student applications are strengthened through a regimen of classes, seminars, community service, job shadowing, research and advisement.  For more information about the Utah Center for Rural Health programs, contact Karen Ganss at 435-865-8660 or visit