Dr. Lyden’s collaboration with RUUTE has led to a number of useful projects in diverse areas.
One Neurologist Is Taking Specialty Care to People 400 Miles Away and Many In-Between
Made up of Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming, the Mountain West region is home to many people who live in areas without major hospitals. In fact, a 2017 study estimated that almost 30 million US residents do not have access to an emergency room within an hour from their homes. Vascular neurologist Dr. Stephanie Lyden experienced the difficulties and expensive nature of growing up far from medical care firsthand when she would watch her family members plan extensively to take off work to travel from their hometown of Casper, Wyoming, for treatments.
Dr. Lyden came to realize that she was not alone in such experiences as she traveled the five-state WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) in medical school, served as the interim director of the University of Utah’s Mountain West TeleStroke program, travels to Jackson Hole, WY—population 10,800—to run an outreach clinic, and serves as a faculty director for the Rural and Underserved Utah Training Experience (RUUTE) and Regional Affairs Program at the University of Utah.
RUUTE is a University of Utah School of Medicine–run program that aims to improve health care access and medical education/training for the rural and underserved communities of Utah and the Mountain West region by expanding interest, awareness, and placement of students and physicians. Dr. Lyden’s collaboration with RUUTE has led to a number of useful projects in diverse areas.
Leading Students to Community Engagement Experiences
Exposing Trainees to Rural Neurology
RUUTE Needs Your Help: How You Can Help More Communities Get Better Access to Neurology Care
RUUTE’s work is never finished, and they welcome your support! Dr. Lyden had three ideas on how you can get involved:
- Spread the Word
Do you have any social media accounts? Consider using them to like, share, and comment on RUUTE projects. Word of mouth works too; tell your friends over dinner or your co-workers over the water cooler!
- Live in a Rural Area? Contact RUUTE!
RUUTE programs such as the CEE are constantly seeking out members of rural communities for interviews and insights into volunteer opportunities. If you’re interested, consider sharing your perspective with some medical students! They’d love to pick your brain.
Additionally, community members often know the needs of their communities better than outsiders. If you have knowledge of any volunteer opportunities, projects, or other priorities going on, consider letting RUUTE know.
- Are You a Teacher? Can RUUTE Visit Your Students?
RUUTE is currently increasing its outreach to K-12 schools in hopes of interesting students in the health sciences. If your school may be interested, consider coordinating with the RUUTE team to have some medical students and/or other specialists come and give a presentation!
Contact the RUUTE team: RUUTE@umail.utah.edu
I Live in a Rural Area: Can I Access Neurology Care Without Traveling to Salt Lake City?
No matter where you’re from—rural Utah or the big city—everyone deserves access to specialty health care. Trainees need exposure to the full spectrum of health systems, ranging from academic centers to rural and underserved clinics in order to understand how to work with varied access to resources and the communities they are serving. This is the heart of Dr. Lyden’s and RUUTE’s work—why they do what they do.