Biomedical Engineering Students Target Healthcare Delivery in Rural Arkansas

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From left to right: Isabel Powers and Karl Schubert.

As part of a student-led research project that began in the fall of 2020, a team of biomedical engineering students from the University of Arkansas created a survey to gather information about the system of rural Arkansas health care delivery. Now the team is asking the public to take the poll for the group’s project, HealthcARe for All.

According to the 2010 Arkansas Census, many counties in central and northwestern Arkansas have experienced growth in rural communities. The results of the survey should enable health care providers to better understand and address the level of health care insecurity in rural areas. The long-term goal is to enable healthcare providers to develop mobile healthcare initiatives for better access to healthcare in Arkansas.

The student team, supervised by Karl Schubert, Professor of Practice and Associate Director of the Data Science Program, included Isabel Powers (Honors College / BMEG), Lina Patel (BMEG), Heather Mahony (BMEG) and Dylan Pledger (Honors College / BMEG). Schubert described the project as an example of students putting their interests and concerns into action.

“They saw a need and decided to meet it,” Schubert said. “These students used the information from the Arkansas Children’s Hospital to take action on something that could potentially benefit the health of everyone in rural and underserved areas.”

Senior student participant Isabel Powers reflected on the research activity.

“As an engineering student, I appreciated the opportunity to participate in this type of research,” she said. “It was a lot of hard work, but it was good to get to know the steps involved in creating a credible poll. I’m interested in what the results will look like and can’t wait to see what we do with them next. I think this kind of opportunity will help me in the future. “

Raj Rao, professor and head of biomedical engineering, said this is the type of research activity he would like all students to experience.

“It’s a perfect example of putting the information students learn in the classroom into practice,” said Rao. “Learning the activities through lectures and class discussions is one thing. Being able to put the knowledge into practice is something our department strives to empower students of all levels to do. . “

The support of several individuals and groups helped the team prepare a strong project and survey. Partners included Laura Gray’s Service Learning Class at U of A (Spring 2021); Carol Gattis, State University Institutional Review Board Project Expert and Associate Dean Emeritus of Honors College; Timothy Hagen, VA Hospital admissions; Mariah Green, Canopy NWA; and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

The research project is part of the Alpha Research Initiative founded by the academic chapter of the National Biomedical Engineering Society. For more information on BMES, please visit rso.uark.edu/bmes.

To complete the survey, you can find it on HealthcARe for All Survey – Win Amazon Gift Card.


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