Telligen Community Initiative grant encourages collaboration among CAHs and public health departments

Addressing the needs of rural populations is more critical than ever as we move toward population health, and we need you to be a part of this instrumental transformation. Securing grant funding through the Telligen Community Initiative (TCI), McKendree University has partnered with the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN), public health departments serving rural populations, the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA), Illinois Nurses Foundation (INF), and the Southern Illinois Public Health Consortium (SIPHC).

The TCI concept plan, derived from a foundational academic/public health partnership partially funded by INF, allows critical access hospitals to partner with their area public health departments, creating a dyad. This dyad will work together in creating a plan to address a specific health issue for the population it serves.

“Population health is not just a one-location, actionable item. It takes a village, and engaging in best practices with universities and their students, enhancing the resources and access of both the health department and the provider locations, can create a huge impact on rural communities,” said Angie Charlet, ICAHN’s Senior Director of Quality and Education. “Population health is the foundation to building dynamic and healthy communities for all ages, and we are excited to work with McKendree University and all these other forward-thinking and innovative partners, trained on meeting the healthcare needs of our communities today and sustaining local, rural healthcare for the years to come.”

In response to the need, McKendree University created a Master’s of Science in Nursing option specific to population health. The students eligible for a grant-funded scholarship in this option will come from critical access hospitals, public health departments, or any other areas of healthcare where the main focus is addressing the needs of rural and underserved populations. “Our goal is to have four dyads, each dyad having a student work in conjunction with the CAH and the public health department in planning, implementing, and evaluating the project for the dyad,” said Dr. Janice Albers, DNP, RN, PHNA-BC, CLC. “Even students who are not aligned with a specific dyad may be eligible for scholarships in the population health option of our MSN program.”

Dr. Albers also announced that nurses who work within critical access hospitals, other hospital networks, public health departments, and other healthcare organizations who have existing agreements for tuition reduction are afforded a 10% discount in tuition, if engaging in the population health option, and through the TCI grant, twelve $1,000 scholarships are available for prospective students in 2019.

“With McKendree’s MSN program, you have the choice to earn your degree in a traditional two-year timeframe spanning five semesters, or a part-time format,” said Dr. Albers. “All classes are offered online, giving you the flexibility to complete your coursework when it’s most convenient for you. Culminating practicums and scholarly projects give you the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in a real healthcare environment while receiving expert mentoring from faculty and professionals in the field.”

However, educating nursing staff and students is just one piece of the population health puzzle in this initiative.  “We are looking for public health departments and critical access hospitals to team up with us and make a plan,” said Dr. Albers. “To accomplish this, we have created the Population Health Project Repository. The repository offers the means for us to gain insight into what is really needed out in the communities…a way to determine what CAHs and public health departments, and other organizations need as well.”

“We want to connect students with projects that organizations find very meaningful,” said Dr. Albers about the online form that organizations can submit their wish list projects. “The students working within the practicum are essentially the ‘resources’ needed to implement, operationalize, or trigger some of the projects needed.”

The repository is an online form that collects basic contact and project information for pairing students in their practicum with a specific organization wishing to complete a specific population health project. It is now the goal to roll out this project, beginning with the creation of the dyads and organizations submitting their requests to the repository.

Repository Link:

This project was funded in part by the Telligen Community Initiative to initiate and support, through research and programs, innovative and farsighted health-related projects aimed at improving the health, social well-being, and educational attainment of society, where such needs are expressed. For questions about this program and how your facility can be a part of this program, contact Dr. Janice Albers at