Inclusive Learning for the Rural Healthcare Professional: Considering the Needs of a Diverse Population

Inclusive Learning for the Rural Healthcare Professional: Considering the Needs of a Diverse Population

Sherry Kollmann (Southern New Hampshire University, USA) and Bernice Bain (Southern New Hampshire University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9279-2.ch052


The focus of this chapter is on health care manager's need to develop equal learning opportunities in rural communities. Educational opportunities for healthcare professionals in the rural facilities often get overlooked and/or require more effort to obtain the same level of training as their urban counterparts (Buzza, Ono,Turvey, Whittrock, Noble, Reddy, Kaboli, & Schacht, 2011; Hartung, Hamer, Middleton, Haxby, & Fagnan, 2012). Education and self-directed learning (SDL) promotes emancipatory learning and social action (Lindeman, 1926; Merriam & Caffarella, 1999). It provides a way to minimize the gap in learning opportunities for those serving rural communities. Intentionally integrating socio-cognitive and critical pedagogy (Kincheloe, 2008) into their learning engagement can influence the necessary emotional, motivational, and cognitive engagement. The factors considered for this rural population---- include: diversity of staff (i.e., socioeconomic background, cultural differences, learning abilities, and lived experiences), available resources (i.e., computer equipment, speed of internet connection, funding, and staff resources), and the connectedness between the learner and the educator.
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The Rural Healthcare Professional

The rural community in the United States represented approximately 20% (22 million people) of the overall population; however only 9% of the physical population practices in rural centers (Geyman, Hart, Norris, Coombs, & Lishner, 2000). Often trainings are designed with a universal learner in mind—making learners’ identities invisible. The invisibility of where a healthcare professional practices creates a gap in design decisions when developing instruction. Design strategies must be multifaceted with intentional inclusion of all diversities (Geyman, 2000) Otherwise, designers could make decisions that favor their own identity (which is not likely that of a rural healthcare professional). The healthcare professionals in the rural community have unique identities and experiences that must be considered for learning to be effective and relevant. In developing an equal learning opportunity for these healthcare professionals, their rural identity needs to be considered. Identity integrates into learning engagement (Kincheloe, 2008). Since self-concept influences the way in which information is processed (Baldwin, 1992), design needs to be inclusive of the invisible diversity of rural identity.

People make meaning from events that occur in the community where they live and/or work. The social and communal norms influence their behaviors, which become experiences. These experiences shape the thinking and meaning created by members of the community. The lack of awareness in how diversity inclusion influences motivation and learning, within the development of instruction requires praxis (Freire, 1970, 1973).

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