Online course on rural health
The first UNM Health Sciences Center online course on rural health nursing is available on Coursera.org.
Credit: Furhana Afrid

The University of New Mexico's latest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Rural Health Nursing, is ready to welcome students. This course is focused on people interested in the problems that face health care providers when resources are scarce or culturally inappropriate.

The course designers Amy Levi, PhD, a professor at the UNM College of Nursing, and Van Roper, PhD, an assistant clinical professor at the UNM College of Nursing, are collaborating to teach the course.

“Dr. Van Roper and I decided to start the course to share some of the valuable resources at the UNM Health Sciences Center that support rural health, and to particularly focus on nursing," Levi said. "As one of the most rural states in the U.S., we thought that we could represent the rural experience from both our personal and professional experience here in New Mexico.”

Levi, a practicing midwife, teaches and consults on maternal child health and practice. She began her career as a rural health care nurse in Vermont and has worked in California, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Guatemala, Pakistan, Malawi and Tibet.

Roper has been in clinical practice for more than 20 years in rural, frontier and urban underserved populations in the southern U.S. and along the west coast. He is interested in rural health, clinical decision making, Native American health, homeless health care and health care systems.

Together, they have prepared an eight week course that will challenge their students to think about ways to overcome the barriers to health care facing their communities. The students will prepare a community assessment and put together a project to improve health care in their local communities. The course is designed to help students find ways to overcome the obstacles in their own communities.

So far, about half the students who have enrolled for the free course are from North America, 19 percent are from Europe and 18 percent are from Asia. The students represent more than 100 countries.

The Rural Health Nursing course is one of four courses offered by UNM through Coursera this spring.