Hoping for more opportunities to learn closer to home

Janae Nienhueser grew up in York, Neb., and she loves the feel of her hometown. She was, she realized as she got older, incredibly lucky to have grown up in a place like that.

And as a second-year student in the three-year doctor of physical therapy program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, she now realizes another thing: In York, they were lucky to have primary health care available locally.

In rural Nebraska, not everyone does: 13 Nebraska counties have no medical radiographer, 24 counties have no physician assistant and 25 counties have no physical therapist. The state needs more allied health workers who would work in rural Nebraska – the way Nienhueser plans to someday.

That plan suits her. Janae followed an older brother to the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and a younger sister followed her.
“I selected (UNK) because of its welcoming campus that offered that friendly, small-town feel that I had grown to cherish,” she said.

And there were great opportunities there. She completed a semester-long internship at a PT clinic. She worked in UNK’s research program. She got into UNMC’s PT program on her first try.

“I attribute much of my success at UNMC to the education I received at UNK,” she said.

She’s had a good experience at UNMC. And Omaha has been an adventure. But Nienhueser wishes she could have gotten the same education in Kearney.

It would have been more affordable. It would have allowed her to maintain her support system and contacts. It was where she wanted to be, and where she wanted to stay.

And in some cases, that might keep a great prospect for rural Nebraska from getting away.

“Our experience has demonstrated that if students interested in rural practice are provided opportunities to obtain their education in rural communities, they have a greater likelihood of returning to those communities to practice after graduation,” said Kyle Meyer, Ph.D., senior associate dean of the School of Allied Health Professions at UNMC.

On Feb. 2, Nienhueser testified before the Nebraska Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. She spoke in favor of LB 1055. As part of the “Building a Healthier Nebraska” initiative, it supports a proposed $19 million, 30,000-square-foot addition at UNK that would include expansion of the Kearney-based UNMC nursing division and the addition of UNMC allied health professions programs on the UNK campus.


Lisa Spellman
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-4353

Series demonstrates importance of major University of Nebraska Initiative

This is the fourth of five stories we are sending this week that help demonstrate the importance of a major University of Nebraska initiative.

Called "Building a Healthier Nebraska," the initiative seeks a $91 million investment from the state to support construction projects in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney. The initiative will improve the health of Nebraskans, create well-paying jobs, expand the health care work force and enhance Nebraska’s reputation in cancer research and treatment.

· Four projects include: a $50 million investment in a new $370 million cancer center campus in Omaha. State funds would be supplemented with more than $300 million in additional support from private donors, patient revenues and other sources; a new $17 million College of Nursing facility in Lincoln; a $19 million, 30,000-square-foot addition to the Bruner Hall of Science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney to provide space for nursing and allied health science programs; and $5 million to plan and design a new Veterinary Diagnostic Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

For more information on the initiative, go to www.unmc.edu/healthiernebraska. You can follow us on Twitter using the hashtag #healthierNE.

To view a video of Janae Nienhueser, a student in the physical therapy program at UNMC in the School of Allied Health Professions, talk about why it is important to expand educational opportunities in the allied health professions go to: http://tinyurl.com/6tgne3y

TV stations can download the video file (341.7 MB) for the next 14 days. (It will be removed after Wednesday, March 7, 2012). http://dropbox.unl.edu/uploads/20120307/74fc2bd8ab8fec64/Janae%20Sound.mp4

To access a photo of Nienhueser click on the link below and then on the blue arrow below her name to download the picture: http://photos.unmc.edu/sites/pincollection.jspx?collectionName=%7Be693a003-4782-4496-a62b-931a837d18ff%7D#1329925485352_0