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Karen Clementich, Nursing Director at LRSC recognized as a 2018 National Rural Health Day “Community Star”

On the third Thursday of November every year, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health leads National Rural Health Day, an annual day of recognition for those who serve the vital health needs of nearly 60 million people residing in America’s rural communities, estimated to be 1 in 5 Americans. 

NOSORH is the member organization serving all 50 State Offices of Rural Health (SORH). SORHs provide support to rural hospitals, clinics, and first responders in several ways including technical assistance, funding that supports workforce development, population health management, quality improvement initiatives, and more.

In 2015, NOSORH asked SORHs to nominate hospital and emergency first responder teams, community health, and volunteer service heroes on the front lines of rural health who were making a positive impact on rural lives. Soon after the stories started coming, the book of National Rural Health Day Community Stars was published.   

Karen Clementich, Nursing Director at LRSC, will appear in the 2018 edition that will be available on the website, the official hub for National Rural Health Day and the Power of Rural movement, beginning November 15, 2018. She was nominated by the Center for Rural Health at UND. 

Clementich received the Outstanding Rural Educator/Mentor at the Dakota Conference for Rural and Public Health earlier this year. That award is presented to a professional who has made outstanding contributions to the education, development and placement of new healthcare professionals in rural North Dakota communities. Academic educators, community-based instructors and preceptors are eligible for this award.

To help address the ongoing nursing shortage in North Dakota, Karen Clementich expanded the Lake Region State College Nursing Program based on the old idiom, “If the mountain won't come to you, then you must go to the mountain." She is all too familiar with the challenges that arise from a lack of exposure to careers in health care for young people in her state, particularly for those who have an interest in nursing; however, unable to find education opportunities closer to their hometown. Because of this and many other good reasons, Karen isacommitted to bringing nursing education to students closer to where they live.  

Karen oversees the administration of the Practical Nursing Certificate and Associate Nursing Degree programs at the Lake Region State College Devils Lake, which is the school’s main campus, as well as at its distance site locations in Grand Forks and Mayville. Under her leadership, the program has experienced growth and new momentum. She promotes and facilitates active faculty and student engagement beyond the classroom, including convening a monthly meeting with advisers and students. Their time together is spent discussing issues and challenges and developing support strategies that offer great promise and sound solutions. This small, yet significant, step has resulted in higher student retention, a win for all.

Karen leads the Lake Region nursing program with an expectation that all stakeholders, students, faculty and local healthcare communities alike, will commit to being focused on active participation, evidence-based decision-making, and compassionate, patient-centered nursing care. She believes that the real power of rural is the collaboration between the college and community health facilities. By partnering them with students, the students gain invaluable hands-on experience and a taste of a rich and rewarding career of nursing from a rural health perspective. As for the local health organizations, hospitals, and clinics that participate in student placement, their rewards come from an increase in the pool of skilled nursing candidates that may and often do, return to the community as members of the local healthcare workforce.  

The National Organization of State Office of Rural Health is the membership association of the nation’s 50 State Offices of Rural Health. State Offices of Rural Health are anchors of information and support for rural communities, health professionals, hospitals and clinics across the nation. They are dedicated to collaboration, education, communication and innovation to improve health in small towns around the country.