Rapid City to host international rural nursing conference

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — Approximately 250 health-care researchers, educators and practitioners from 35 states, including 30-plus international guests will be attending the International Rural Nursing Conference in Rapid City, July 19-21 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The conference is being led by the Matson Halverson Christiansen Hamilton Foundation, South Dakota State University’s College of Nursing, the University of South Dakota’s School of Health Sciences and the Rural Nursing Organization (RNO). The theme of this year’s conference is Rural Nursing and Health Care in the New Frontier.

“The conference will explore many challenges such as rising costs, health-care workforce shortages, evolving reimbursements and how they impact the future of health care in rural communities,” said Corey Kilgore, executive director of the Matson Halverson Christiansen Hamilton Foundation. “Participants will be sharing innovative rural nursing practices that consider the changing landscape of health care.”

Elizabeth Merwin, the Ann Henshaw Gardiner Professor of Nursing at Duke University and past president of the RNO, added, “The conference offers networking opportunities for rural nurses around the world that can be continued through ongoing collaborations through the Rural Nurse Organization. Nurses are key leaders of health care in rural communities, and the RNO allows for partnerships between rural nurses who specialize in practice, education and research.”

A special session will include presentations by the board of directors of the Rural Nurse Organization regarding opportunities provided through participation in the organization. Other sessions will focus on writing for publication, podium and poster presentations.

University of South Dakota Professor Emeritus Carla Dieter said the significance of bringing rural nurses together is addressing the unique demands of rural nursing. “Many times, rural nurses need to be all things to all people, requiring a wide range of skills and a greater breadth of practice than their urban counterparts,” Dieter said. “Rural nurses need a venue to come together to address the opportunities and challenges with colleagues who understand rural practice. This conference will provide that opportunity.”

Nancy Fahrenwald, dean of SDSU’s College of Nursing, said “Hosting an international conference in South Dakota is an honor and a privilege and should convey a commitment to high quality health care for the people of the state, the region, the nation and the world. We couldn’t do it without the efforts of Regional Health, Sanford Health and the Helmsley Charitable Trust in helping sponsor the conference.”

The RNO partners with different co-host organizations passionate about rural nursing and health care to hold this international conference every two years. The last conference was held in Bozeman, Montana.

To learn more about the event, visit