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Washington State University

Rural Health Initiative

What is the Rural Health Initiative?

Access to health care providers in rural Washington continues to be a challenge for the nearly 800,000 residents living in these areas. It’s estimated that Washington needs 600 new providers to eliminate this gap in access to care. Residents living in rural Washington rely on their local pharmacies and clinics for their health care needs, but many of these pharmacies have been forced out of business due to reimbursement issues with insurance companies and governmental agencies. To alleviate the lack of access to health care in these areas, the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has created the Rural Health Initiative (RHI), an ambitious 10-year plan to create pathways so that student pharmacists and post-graduate pharmacists can specialize in delivery of rural health care and catalyze economic development in these areas. Efforts will initially focus on rural areas in the central and eastern regions of the state in hopes of scaling this initiative to include all rural areas of the state and beyond.

The Plan

The Rural Health Initiative will require a collective effort from health care providers, policymakers, and educators to make a substantive impact on this growing health care need. Through education, funding, and advocacy the college has laid out a step-by-step plan to launch this initiative.

  • Partner with local stakeholders, community members, pharmacists and other health care providers to ensure adequate access to health care in rural, and medically underserved areas of the state
  • Work with our community partners to establish pharmacy residency programs that focus on rural health care and behavioral health in the rural environment
  • Develop a specialized track within the doctor of pharmacy program to prepare future pharmacists to meet the unique health care needs of rural communities
  • Incentivize participation in the rural track by providing scholarships for student pharmacists focusing in this area.

How you can help


Your support will help us fund student scholarships, recruit quality faculty, and sustain residencies in rural areas where access to care is most needed.

Make a gift


Are you a site interested in partnering with the college to train the next generation of pharmacists and health care providers? Contact Julie Akers to tell us about how we can support a residency in your community.


Do you know a student with an interest in helping rural communities thrive? Refer a student or fill out our inquiry form to learn more about our doctor of pharmacy program.

Refer a future PharmD

Learn more about our rural health curriculum