Connection and Rural Health Nursing: Laurie Anne Ferguson and the School of Nursing at Emory & Henry College

by Leah Prater
Dr. Laurie Anne Ferguson, the founding dean of the new College of Nursing at Emory & Henry College, has been a registered nurse for 42 years and a licensed nurse practitioner for 38 of those years. In addition to her time in clinical nursing settings, Ferguson has spent 29 years as a nursing educator. Ferguson’s practical and research focus has been on health literacy and the impact that health literacy has on communities.

“Connection and communication are critical to improving healthcare,” said Ferguson, highlighting the core of her interest in the health literacy of patients, the education of students in the College’s new School of Nursing program and her recently published, co-authored book, “Rural Health Nursing: Barriers and Benefits.” Authored alongside Dr. Kenneth Lowrance, retired professor of professional practice within the Harris College of Nursing and Health Science at Texas Christian University and a foreword written by Emory & Henry School of Nursing faculty Drs. Farmer and Wexler, “Rural Health Nursing: Barriers and Benefits” covers a variety of topics across 16 chapters. All but two of those chapters are curated pieces written by other healthcare professionals on the topic of rural nursing and the distinct challenges that rural nursing can pose. The text is broken into 16 chapters with teaching in mind. Nursing educators at the College can use Ferguson and Lowrance’s text as a full semester resource to teach from at the pace of one chapter per week.

Dr. Laurie Anne Ferguson's book Rural Health Nursing

Ferguson has the opportunity to set the tone of Emory & Henry College’s School of Nursing as the founding dean. With that opportunity, Ferguson dedicated herself to establishing a curriculum emphasis on population health in rural communities. Ferguson assuaged any fears that nurses who pursue a career at Emory & Henry College may be pigeonholed into working exclusively in rural settings. “Rural care skills can translate into underserved and urban care,” she said. Both rural and underserved urban areas suffer from being Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA).

In addition to the challenges that being an HPSA region places on healthcare is that of the digital divide. Ferguson’s curriculum emphasis addresses many of the health literacy and healthcare staff fears of working around potentially unreachable medical databases and digital resources because of poor regional digital infrastructure. “It is challenging to recruit healthcare professionals to rural communities without access to supportive resources,” Ferguson said about the issues that the digital divide healthcare professionals in rural areas need to contend with.

According to the National Academies of Science Engineering Medicine, formerly the Institute of Medicine, a national need for nursing staff is going to continue to grow until 2030 as prior generations of nurses age out of the workforce and into retirement. With the College’s new School of Nursing headed up by founding dean Ferguson, Emory & Henry College will equip nursing graduates to handle the regional shortages from both the wave of nurses who are projected to be retiring by 2030, working in an HPSA and contending with the challenges that the digital divide provides.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3580-emory-henry-names-next-mens-head-basketball"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/18,0,351,333/16033_jimmy-allen.rev.1717596457.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/18,0,351,333/16033_jimmy-allen.rev.1717596457.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/18,0,351,333/16033_jimmy-allen.rev.1717596457.jpg" alt="Jimmy Allen E&H Men's Basketball Coach" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="333" data-max-h="333" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3580-emory-henry-names-next-mens-head-basketball">Emory & Henry Names Next Men’s Head Basketball Coach</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Emory & Henry Names Jimmy Allen Next Head Men’s Basketball Coach</p><a href="/live/news/3580-emory-henry-names-next-mens-head-basketball" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3133-emory-henry-cuts-ribbon-on-newly-built"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.jpg" alt=" Student resident advisors, current residents and administrators pose in front of the new University Apartments at Emory & Henry " width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3133-emory-henry-cuts-ribbon-on-newly-built">Emory & Henry Cuts Ribbon on Newly Built University Apartments</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After welcoming more than 1,100 students to its Emory, Va. campus, Emory & Henry held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, September 12, at University Apartments, its newest apartment-style living complex, adding 96 new beds to its inventory in the fall of 2023. After the ceremony, attendees had the opportunity to tour the new living spaces.</span></p><a href="/live/news/3133-emory-henry-cuts-ribbon-on-newly-built" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3054-emory-henry-colleges-school-of-health-sciences"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14314_EH-SHS-Commencement_8-12-23_0724.rev.1691881550.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14314_EH-SHS-Commencement_8-12-23_0724.rev.1691881550.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14314_EH-SHS-Commencement_8-12-23_0724.rev.1691881550.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14314_EH-SHS-Commencement_8-12-23_0724.rev.1691881550.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14314_EH-SHS-Commencement_8-12-23_0724.rev.1691881550.jpg" alt="Emory & Henry School of Health Sciences awarded more than 100 advanced healthcare degrees to students in the Clinical Mental Health C..." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14314_EH-SHS-Commencement_8-12-23_0724.rev.1691881550.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14314_EH-SHS-Commencement_8-12-23_0724.rev.1691881550.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3054-emory-henry-colleges-school-of-health-sciences">Emory & Henry College’s School of Health Sciences Graduates Record-Breaking Class and Two Inaugural Cohorts</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On Saturday, August 12, at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va., 103 students graduated from Emory & Henry College’s School of Health Sciences, marking a milestone of the largest graduating class to date. Additionally, the College celebrated the inaugural cohorts of the Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the Doctor of Occupational Therapy. Many other students graduated with a Master of Physician Assistant Studies or a Doctorate of Physical Therapy.</span></p><a href="/live/news/3054-emory-henry-colleges-school-of-health-sciences" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2814-emory-henry-trustees-vote-to-approve"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/13616_EH-University-Status-3-27-23_054.rev.1679939574.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/13616_EH-University-Status-3-27-23_054.rev.1679939574.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/13616_EH-University-Status-3-27-23_054.rev.1679939574.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/13616_EH-University-Status-3-27-23_054.rev.1679939574.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/13616_EH-University-Status-3-27-23_054.rev.1679939574.jpg" alt="Members of College leadership and the community celebrated the announcement on Monday, March 27 at Van Dyke Center" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/13616_EH-University-Status-3-27-23_054.rev.1679939574.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/13616_EH-University-Status-3-27-23_054.rev.1679939574.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2814-emory-henry-trustees-vote-to-approve">Emory & Henry Trustees Vote to Approve Transition From College to University Status</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Members of the Board of Trustees at Emory & Henry College reviewed and approved the new 2023-2026 strategic plan “Elevate in Excellence,” at its March 25, 2023, meeting that included a status change to move from a college to a private regional comprehensive university to be fully implemented as Emory & Henry University by Fall 2024.</span></p><a href="/live/news/2814-emory-henry-trustees-vote-to-approve" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3483-emory-henry-director-and-professor-granted-a"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/76,0,2208,2133/15758_CelesteGaia-Fulbright_4-12-24_067.rev.1713799830.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/76,0,2208,2133/15758_CelesteGaia-Fulbright_4-12-24_067.rev.1713799830.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/76,0,2208,2133/15758_CelesteGaia-Fulbright_4-12-24_067.rev.1713799830.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/76,0,2208,2133/15758_CelesteGaia-Fulbright_4-12-24_067.rev.1713799830.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/76,0,2208,2133/15758_CelesteGaia-Fulbright_4-12-24_067.rev.1713799830.jpg" alt="Celeste Gaia" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/76,0,2208,2133/15758_CelesteGaia-Fulbright_4-12-24_067.rev.1713799830.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/76,0,2208,2133/15758_CelesteGaia-Fulbright_4-12-24_067.rev.1713799830.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2132" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3483-emory-henry-director-and-professor-granted-a">Emory & Henry Director and Professor Granted a Fulbright Award</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Gaia Awarded Fulbright Honoring International Education Administrators</p><a href="/live/news/3483-emory-henry-director-and-professor-granted-a" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3493-emory-henry-senior-first-acting-fellow-at"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/339,0,1703,1363/15773_destinee-nikole-theatre_2.rev.1713986200.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/339,0,1703,1363/15773_destinee-nikole-theatre_2.rev.1713986200.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/339,0,1703,1363/15773_destinee-nikole-theatre_2.rev.1713986200.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/339,0,1703,1363/15773_destinee-nikole-theatre_2.rev.1713986200.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/339,0,1703,1363/15773_destinee-nikole-theatre_2.rev.1713986200.jpg" alt="Emory & Henry student Destinee Nikole on stage" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/339,0,1703,1363/15773_destinee-nikole-theatre_2.rev.1713986200.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/339,0,1703,1363/15773_destinee-nikole-theatre_2.rev.1713986200.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1364" data-max-h="1363" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3493-emory-henry-senior-first-acting-fellow-at">Emory & Henry Senior First Acting Fellow at Barter Theatre</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Senior at Emory & Henry First to Receive Barter Theatre’s Black Fellowship</p><a href="/live/news/3493-emory-henry-senior-first-acting-fellow-at" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3372-emory-henry-celebrates-ribbon-cutting-for-new"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.jpg" alt="Faculty, Staff and Community Members at Emory & Henry's Ribbon Cutting at the Helen Matthew's Lewis Women's & Gend..." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3372-emory-henry-celebrates-ribbon-cutting-for-new">Emory & Henry Celebrates Ribbon-Cutting for New Women’s & Gender Center Honoring Helen Matthews Lewis</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Emory & Henry College proudly announced the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Helen Matthews Lewis Women’s & Gender Center, held on Saturday, March 16, at 1 p.m. The event occurred at the Damer House on the Emory campus.</p><a href="/live/news/3372-emory-henry-celebrates-ribbon-cutting-for-new" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2974-emory-henry-breaks-ground-on-new-multisport"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14060_Food-City-EmoryHenry-MultiSportComplex-Groundbreaking-6-26-23_900.rev.1687810362.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14060_Food-City-EmoryHenry-MultiSportComplex-Groundbreaking-6-26-23_900.rev.1687810362.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14060_Food-City-EmoryHenry-MultiSportComplex-Groundbreaking-6-26-23_900.rev.1687810362.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14060_Food-City-EmoryHenry-MultiSportComplex-Groundbreaking-6-26-23_900.rev.1687810362.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14060_Food-City-EmoryHenry-MultiSportComplex-Groundbreaking-6-26-23_900.rev.1687810362.jpg" alt="Emory & Henry Breaks Ground on new MultiSport Complex" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14060_Food-City-EmoryHenry-MultiSportComplex-Groundbreaking-6-26-23_900.rev.1687810362.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14060_Food-City-EmoryHenry-MultiSportComplex-Groundbreaking-6-26-23_900.rev.1687810362.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2974-emory-henry-breaks-ground-on-new-multisport">Emory & Henry Breaks Ground on new MultiSport Complex for the Region Thanks to Generous Lead Gift of $4 Million from Food City</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Hundreds of Emory & Henry College students and thousands of middle and high school students will soon be playing sports including lacrosse, track and field and soccer at the new MultiSport Complex at exit 26 just off the I-81 Emory & Henry Education Corridor. Emory & Henry spans facilities from Marion to Bristol in Virginia serving more than 1,400 students. It is estimated that the new complex will be ready for use by fall 2024.</p><a href="/live/news/2974-emory-henry-breaks-ground-on-new-multisport" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>