Agricultural Medicine Training for Rural America

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2011
Project completed:
November 2012
Agricultural workers and their families face numerous threats to health and safety. These threats include accident and injury around machinery; exposure to pesticides, herbicides, allergens, and dust; stress from long work hours and economic uncertainty; noise pollution; long-term sun exposure; and others. Health care professionals working in rural environments must possess the knowledge and skills to recognize, treat, and prevent health problems for agricultural populations. Comprehensive information on the extent to which health care professionals receive training in agricultural medicine is not available; this information can be useful for improving rural medicine training for physicians and other health care professionals. Areas of improvement may include the provision of continuing education for practicing physicians, registered nurses, physician assistants (PAs), or nurse practitioners (NPs); targeting medical and nursing schools that have a rural healthcare focus for improved agricultural medicine curricula including core or elective courses or other educational programming; and improving coordination of activities between health care professionals and public agencies in occupational and agricultural domains.

The study will collect information on the following questions. 1. Are continuing medical education (CME) and continuing education (CE) opportunities in agricultural medicine available for physicians, nurses, NPs or PAs practicing in rural settings? 2. Do NP, PA, RN, MD, and DO training programs specializing in rural health care offer required or elective courses, or other educational programs such as seminars or guest speakers, on agricultural medicine topics? 3. To the extent that questions 1 and 2 are answered affirmatively, what are the characteristics of these educational opportunities: content areas, program type (elective, required, seminar, CME, etc.), geographic distribution, participation levels, and student/clinician population (DO, MD, NP, RN, PA)? 4. What collaborations exist between clinicians and agriculture-related agencies (i.e., the Department of Agriculture and NIOSH) for delivery of agricultural medicine services? A systematic literature review will be conducted for published papers and a search of Internet sites undertaken on agricultural medicine training and education sites. A preliminary Internet search has identified the nine Agricultural Safety and Health Centers funded nationally by NIOSH. These Centers will form the first step in a snowball sampling technique to identify training and education opportunities around the country by clinician population. Organizations, agencies, and schools identified in this search will be contacted to complete on-line surveys and interviews to answer the research questions. Results will be tabulated and summarized descriptively, with a focus on training opportunities in rural areas.


  • Agricultural Health Training for Rural America
    West Virginia Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 02/2013
    This report locates agricultural health programs and courses and describes collaborations that exist between clinicians and agriculture-related agencies.