Category: Healthy Communities

Monique Carley was a participant in the Well-Ahead Louisiana Rural Health Scholars Program. She has been a nurse in the New Orleans area for more than 12 years. Recently, she’s worked in a COVID-19 ICU, a vaccine clinic, and an antibody infusion clinic.

I decided to go back to school after experiencing the effects of COVID-19 on my community. I am working toward my Master of Science in Nursing—Family Nurse Practitioner degree from Loyola University New Orleans, and I recently participated in Well-Ahead’s Rural Health Scholars Program.

I was assigned to the Bogalusa Pediatric Clinic, a small rural health clinic in Bogalusa. Staffed by four employees and a 20-year pediatrician, it was one of the few pediatric clinics in the local area and has served the area for more than 20 years. It started as one of the first pediatric clinics in the area, and the location now houses a small local hospital and other adjoining clinics that work independently for the community.

Community Served 

The clinic serves rural and low-income families. The community has little access to fresh food, and many local families buy groceries at Dollar Tree and Discount Zone stores. Transportation is a challenge as it is mainly by private vehicle.  

Personal Impact

I learned a lot about the culture of the community and how their beliefs transcend into their healthcare needs. I learned how poverty impacts not only physical healthcare but also mental health in the younger, adolescent population. The patients were typically young and had encountered violence in and out of the home. Some adolescents were impacted emotionally by the surrounding violence and even had depression and anxiety that affected their education.

“I appreciate the opportunity this scholarship has given me, and I hope to return the favor by providing services to the local rural Louisiana community.”

My opinion about rural health has changed. I was unaware of the violence in rural areas that resembled what is typically seen in the more populated city regions. My view of the Bogalusa residents also changed. I became more compassionate and understanding after meeting with the families and hearing about their struggles.

After watching the rural health webinar and experiencing rural health in person, I can now see how health disparities and inequalities affect overall healthcare. The lack of necessities and financial burdens restrict the population from medication options and mental health services. Many surrounding clinics offered services, but they did not accept Medicaid. Those programs that did provide services for Medicaid patients had an extremely long wait list or were not accepting new patients due to the overwhelming demand.

Learn more about Well-Ahead’s Rural Health Scholars Program

A story that stuck with me from my rotation is about a young boy suffering from depression. His family could not afford counseling and worried that he might harm himself. Together, it was decided to admit the boy to the hospital to seek instant treatment. The clinic continues to follow the young boy post-discharge and assist the family with the free services that the region offers.

Future Plans

I enjoyed my time practicing in the rural health clinic. After graduation, I plan to continue my work part-time at the Bogalusa Pediatric Clinic. I would also like to work in a Family Clinic in the Covington area.

From practicing in the rural health clinic, I developed a better understanding of the population and learned about free local options for mental health and other services that are not well advertised. I appreciate the opportunity this scholarship has given me, and I hope to return the favor by providing services to the local rural Louisiana community.

Rural Health Scholars Program

Well-Ahead’s Rural Health Scholars Program encourages healthcare students to practice in Louisiana’s health professional shortage areas. Students participate in a short-term rotation to gain professional experience and learn from rural healthcare professionals. Participants receive $8,000 for a stipend and living expenses, exposure that could help with a future career in rural healthcare, and assistance with job placement.

Interested in serving the rural community? Learn more about Well-Ahead’s Rural Health Scholars Program.