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Health Services Research & Development

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2017 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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4028 — Impact on Employee Engagement and Retention: Final Evaluation of the Office of Rural Health Providers Continuing Education Initiative

Lead/Presenter: Jini Hanjian, COIN - North Florida/South Georgia and Tampa
All Authors: Hanjian JM (CINDRR and ORH)

This presentation will discuss the final evaluation of the Office of Rural Health (ORH)"Rural Provider and Health Care Staff Training and Education Initiative" (RPSTI). The demonstration Initiative started in 2013 and ended in 2016. Nineteen sites were granted funds to develop continuing training/education projects for rural healthcare providers and staff. The purpose of the Initiative was to establish innovative, cutting-edge training projects that did not require travel, utilized the latest technology and curricula, and were convenient and easily accessible to providers and staff in rural VA clinics. The evaluation examined the training projects, impact on the engagement of the providers/staff with their associated Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMC), and the effect of training on their retention.

Mixed methods approaches, and a development and implementation model, were used to evaluate the Initiative. Five program objectives were evaluated at each site: 1) needs assessment utilized to inform the startup, 2) met training needs of the rural providers/staff, through innovative means, 3) integrated the rural sites into the associated VAMC, 4) showed its project could be sustained, and 5) demonstrated it increased the rural providers/staff skills and knowledge. At the Initiative's conclusion, the sites were asked to explain their project's impact on provider/staff engagement and retention.

The evaluation showed that each of the 19 sites approached the Initiative's challenge in a unique manner developing infrastructure, partnerships, training technologies, and curricula by utilizing a variety of training modalities. Data on the sites' infrastructure and training are examined. In addition, the sites' impact on provider/staff engagement and retention are discussed.

Most of the RPSTI sites successfully created their infrastructure, curricula, and improved rural provider/staff engagement. In the three years of the Initiative, over 26,000 providers/staff received training. The argument for impacting provider/staff retention is only suggestive and would require a more rigorous analysis.

Providing convenient, high quality and easily accessible training to rural providers/staff impacts their practice and engagement with their VAMC, and by extension, improves access and quality of care for Veterans. RPSTI provided 19 pilot models on how to develop distance learning for the rural VA healthcare field.