Certificate in Rural Health

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Program Description

This certificate program is designed to give PharmD students a concentration in both rural health science and the practice of rural healthcare. Students who complete this program will have a better understanding of the health challenges and opportunities in rural communities as well as a better ability to improve health of patients and populations within these communities. Very generally, “rural” can be defined as less densely populated geographic areas; this program introduces students to the more specific definitions of rural that are used by the US federal government and other organizations.

This mission of this certificate program is to produce PharmD graduates who are equipped with the knowledge and experience needed to thrive as a pharmacist working in rural settings.

Student Learning Objectives

  • Describe basic concepts in rural health science, including measurement, methods, and testing solutions to rural health problems.
  • Analyze rural health issues and make evidence-based recommendations for improvement.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of rural health issues in rural pharmacy practice settings.
  • Apply the knowledge of rural health science to real-world healthcare and community settings.
  • Integrate the knowledge from courses in the certificate program and apply this knowledge to enhance patient care in advanced experiential rotations.
  • Identify and demonstrate ability to implement solutions to rural health problems.


  • Must have completed P1 (first year) in the PharmD program with a GPA of 3.0 or better
  • Must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better to remain in the certificate program
  • Must not be on probation


Elective Courses

PHPP-567 Rural Health Science: Introduction (2 credits), P2 year

This course will consist of readings, lectures, and exams covering the following evidence-based rural health topics:

  • Introduction to key concepts (e.g., defining “rural”, rural health trends)
  • Population health (e.g., role of HIT, management)
  • Global health (e.g., diseases, link to infrastructure)
  • Public health (e.g., best practices, prevention)
  • Health disparities (e.g., economic and social determinants of health, measuring and monitoring)
  • Workforce issues (e.g., recruitment and retention, scopes of practice, supply and demand)
  • Access to care (e.g., insurance coverage, provider availability, medication access, critical access hospitals, rural health clinics, telehealth)
  • Community outreach (e.g., effective approaches, identifying and leveraging strengths)
  • Health literacy (e.g., assessing, role in patient education, “teach-back” method)
  • Environmental health (e.g., air, water, agriculture)
  • Community culture (e.g., dimensions / “traits”, impact on health)
  • Community health needs assessment (e.g., resources, targeting services to meet needs)
  • Community-based participatory research (e.g., rationale, partnerships, approach)
  • Policy and legislation (e.g., funding, advocacy, billing & reimbursement)
  • Innovation and problem-solving (e.g., creating, designing, diffusing solutions)

PHPP-568 Rural Health Science: Advanced Topics (2 credits), P3 year

Introduction to Rural Health Science (above) is a pre-requisite for this course, which will consist of students picking a rural health science topic from the introductory course topics and completing an evidence-based project on this topic. This will involve in-depth reading, project proposal, project presentation, and project write-up. Examples of projects may include:

  • Writing a review of the scientific literature
  • Conducting a small research project
  • Designing an evidence-based rural health innovation

Advanced Experiential Rotations in Rural Settings

Minimum of 18 APPE credits (Ambulatory Care, Community Practice, Medicine, Hospital Pharmacy, and/or Electives) in rural settings such as:

  • Hawaii Island
  • Kauai Island
  • Rural areas of Maui County (i.e.,Hana, Lani, Molokai)
  • Other approved rural sites


To apply, please submit a brief letter of interest (one page or less) to pharmacy@hawaii.edu by September 17, 2018. Letters of interest will be reviewed and selected applicants will be notified of acceptance via email. Accepted students are responsible for working with the program coordinator to ensure rural APPE sites.


Karen L. Pellegrin, PhD, MBA, Director of Continuing Education and Strategic Planning, and the Center for Rural Health Science Email.