Center for Rural Health Practice

Our offices are located in Suite 214 Marilyn Horne Hall in historic downtown Bradford. The center maintains formal relationships with all University of Pittsburgh campuses and schools and with the UPMC Health System, providing access to many of the nation's top health researchers. By serving as the rural health focal point for the entire university system, the center works to engage these researchers in rural health research and practice. Local communities serve as the testing grounds for national program models and for the development of rural health policy.

Goals include:

  • Subcontract rural health research to University of Pittsburgh campuses and schools, with a focus on schools and departments of the health sciences.
  • Serve as rural health consultant for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and University of Pittsburgh campuses and schools.
  • Test practice models in rural communities
  • Develop policy recommendations for the consideration of federal, state, and local stakeholders
  • Serve as rural health liaison between the University of Pittsburgh and federal, state and local governments, and rural health partners.



Phone: 814-362-5050

  • Barbara E. Barnes, MD, Associate Dean for Continuing Medical Education, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Richard E. McDowell, PhD., President Emeritus and Associate Professor of Biology, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford
  • Margaret A. Potter, JD, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh

Get Active was a grant funded program supported by the Pennsylvania Governor's Advisory Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. This Council has been appointed to be a proactive force to work towards improving the health of all Pennsylvanians by providing leadership that promotes physically active lifestyles and links families, communities, schools, work sites, health care, and media. The goals of the Council support the 2010 National Health Objectives of decreasing the number of adults not engaging in any leisure time physical activity and increasing the proportion of adolescents who engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day, 5 to 7 days per week. This grant is focused on supporting new physical activity initiatives or increasing current and/or additional physical activity programming. Programs and resources supported through this grant create an environmental change and are self-sustaining once the grant process is complete.

With this grant from the Governor's Council, CRHP started a program called "Walk and Cycle for Health in all Seasons." The objective of the program is to promote physical activity within three communities in McKean and Potter Counties in northwestern Pennsylvania. Two of the communities (Bradford and Smethport) are in McKean County, while the Coudersport community is in Potter County. The envisioned success of the program will be evidenced by the degree to which physical activity becomes a way of life within the communities even after the end of active funding for the program. The long-term objective is consistent with the mission and vision of the Center, which is to promote health, prevent disease, and improve lives through evidenced-based programs. Pedometers, walking guides, bicycles and snowshoes have been purchased and distributed to community residents for their use to ensure success of the program.

Bicycles and snow shoes can be checked out free of charge in the following locations:

Bradford YMCA: 814-368-6101

Smethport Costa’s Ace Hardware Store: 814-887-5542

Coudersport Charles Cole Wellness Center: 814-274-5353


The Center for Rural Health Practice is coordinating a research site for the Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia, a project of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.

Viewed from an ethnography perspective, Appalachia constitutes a unique American culture, often referred to as the "forgotten minority." It has been long recognized that children and adults in Appalachia, have significant oral health disparities compared with the general U.S. population. In 1998, 82.2% of children had dental caries by grade 10. In addition, these children received less dental treatment than the average for all US children. Oral health problems develop early in life among Appalachians, resulting in a trajectory of poor oral health over the life course.

The Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia (COHRA) at the University of Pittsburgh responds to the need to understand the nature of this oral disease disparity and to respond with interventions aimed at reducing these disparities that are tailored to the needs of a rural, economically disadvantaged population. To accomplish this mission, COHRA has been organized around a unifying theme that can be summarized as a multifactorial, developmental characterization of person-environment interactions in children that result, over their life course, to the development of oral disease liability. Given the focus on children , COHRA has adopted the approach of a prospective paradigm to study children within families, with particular emphasis on how these families buffer or impart risk for oral disease in their children.

The overarching mission of COHRA is, through enhanced understanding of the nature of the person-environment interaction, to inform and implement effective community-based prevention programs aimed at the reduction of oral health disparities. Mindful of the need for culturally appropriate and targeted intervention at the community level, COHRA is strongly linked to the Appalachian community through organizations such as the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Rural Health Practice and, in West Virginia, the W.V. Rural Health Education Partnership.

The Center for Rural Health Practice will recruit 200 families in Northwest Pennsylvania for clinical (dental) examination, genetic analysis, and questionnaire completion. These families will be seen three times over the next seven years.


Past program efforts include a study of home health care agencies to identify challenges faced by rural providers and a study to assess the feasibility of using hospital information systems to collect and analyze population data for the purposes of public health planning and programming.

Past projects include:

  • Pre-Doctoral Clerkship Program
  • Pennsylvania Public Health Training Center (PA-PHTC)
  • Northwest Pennsylvania Adolescent Alcohol Research Cooperative (NPAARC)
    Funder: Department of Health and Human Services / Health Resources and Services Administration
  • Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
  • Community Health Partnership (CHP)
    Collaboration between CRHP and members of community organizations and businesses to develop programs to address health issues within the community.
  • Get Active
  • WalkWorks Pilot
  • Farmers' Market
  • Women's Health Kiosk
  • Bradford HealthWorks Project
  • Community Health Assessment (Warren County)
  • Community Health Assessment (Mckean County)
  • Home Health Reimbursement Study
  • Oral Health Research Study
  • Rural Health Database Project
  • Rural Public Health financing study
  • Rural Public Health Preparedness
  • Rural Public Health Research Agenda
  • Workforce Development:

    Dr. Lorraine Ettaro led the Center's Health Workforce Study. The purpose of the workforce project was to:

    • assess the impact of health professions shortages on rural communities,
    • identify specific health professional shortages, and to recommend alternative training programs aimed at filling identified service gaps.

    Once the primary care and public health professional shortages are identified in rural Pennsylvania, model training programs can be established to both train new workers and offer continuing education to existing workers in an effort to improve access to needed services and overall community safety.

    It was anticipated that the workforce project would serve as a model for identifying and filling gaps in rural healthcare and the public health workforce. In addition to improving access to needed health professionals for the improvement of rural health status, such efforts would enhance the ability of rural communities to respond to public health threats and emergencies by increasing the numbers of rural professionals trained to serve in these capacities.

    This study included rural providers, stakeholders and academic institutions across Pennsylvania. The project involved a detailed analysis of real and perceived health professions shortages in rural counties in Pennsylvania and an assessment of public health capacities

  • Confronting Violence, Improving Women’s Lives
  • College Health Center-based Alcohol and Sexual Violence Intervention- A Randomized Study
  • Advancing the Practice of Nursing to Address Rural Healthcare Needs Pilot Study
  • National Network of Libraries of MedicineMiddle Atlantic Region
    The CRHP collaborates with the NNLM-MAR to promote the use and access to reliable health information by health professionals.
  • Regional Health Care Network
    Leaders from local-regional health care institutions who meet to network, identify, review and share educational resources and training opportunities, and discuss timely issues and topics of importance for health care in our rural region.

The Pre-Doctoral Clerkship Program is a project designed to build and expand the pre-doctoral clerkship and research experience in rural health within the Department of Family Medicine (DFM) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPSOM). The program integrates current available curricular and clerkship experience with new collaborations with the Center for Rural Health Practice at Pitt-Bradford. The goal is to provide a family medicine clerkship and rural health research program that expands and strengthens the training and resources available to future primary care trainees to rural Pennsylvania.

The DFM faculty are dedicated to teaching and caring for under served populations. The intent is to expand medical student exposure to rural under served populations within southwestern and northwestern Pennsylvania. Collaboration allows the University of Pittsburgh medical students to benefit from clinical and research experiences, resources, training and expertise in rural medicine, primary care medicine, and telemedicine. The integrated program aims to provide clinical and research faculty with the resources necessary to work, teach, and mentor scholarly projects for medical students effectively in community and rural based settings. It also addresses public health priorities and primary care based priorities, cultural competency, and provides a richer, more comparable experience for all medical students, regardless of preceptor site. The program also provides greater opportunities and infrastructure for medical students to recognize the value and conduct primary care and rural health based research. The objectives of the program are to:

  1. Provide a more comparable medical student Family Medicine Clerkship experience, regardless of location or preceptor site, by providing preceptor faculty development, weekly didactic training via live distance learning that promotes patient-centered, medical home concepts, and web-based fmCASES modules.
  2. Expand the current Family Medicine Clerkship to include preceptors who practice in medically underserved areas within western Pennsylvania.
  3. Provide targeted curriculum for primary care and rural health practice in order to:
    1. Emphasize teaching the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to practice primary care medicine in rural under served settings.
    2. Introduce telemedicine as a source of clinical intervention to medical students observing practices in rural under served settings.
  4. Provide the infrastructure and pilot funds for medical students to perform their scholarly project or summer research program in rural health with the Center for Rural Health Practice at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

Rural Medicine, Public Health and Research

Click to learn more about the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.



CDC. Immunizations - You Call the Shots
CDC. Infection Prevention in Dialysis Settings
CDC. Malaria 101 for the Health Care Provider
CDC. TB 101 for Health Care Workers
CDC. NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours
CDC. NIOSH. Workplace Violence Prevention for Nurses
CDC. Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals


Act 31 Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Continuing Education Providers


Community Benefits - Webinar: Understanding the Hospital Community Benefit Requirement and the Community Health Needs Assessment.

Community Health Needs Assessment

Community Health Assessments and Improvement Plans

The Rural Assistance Center ( has a free online guide.

The Community Toolbox, a free service at the University of Kansas, includes a piece on Assessing Community Needs and Resources.


CULTURALLY COMPETENT CARE: A CORNERSTONE OF NURSING : USDHHS Office of Minority Health Continuing education hours available for nurses, social workers.


Pub Med Nurses Tutorial

The Zwerdling Postcard Collection: Pictures of Nursing Online Exhibition. It is a wonderful exhibition of postcards that depicts images of the nursing profession in the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to the exhibition, the site includes resources and a digital gallery which may serve as a starting point for activity and discussion during National Nurses Week.


Enduring/Online Activities


The purpose of the Rural Public Health Research Agenda is to identify and articulate areas of public health research that can influence policy and practice, and impact the health of rural populations. Recognizing that rural health research has tended to focus on access to care issues, this effort focuses upon those issues that can more broadly influence health status in rural America. Access to care is an issue critical to improving health status, but equal in importance are issues such as health behavior, environmental health, infectious disease surveillance, and other issues of public health interest. Topic areas covered within the Research Agenda are broadly defined under the headings of Workforce Development and Competency Enhancement, Rural Public Health Preparedness, Rural Public Health Infrastructure, Access to Care/Safety Net Support, Environmental Issues, and Rural Health Disparities.

The Research Agenda was developed in collaboration with public health experts from across the country who attended a two day Agenda Setting meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, September 22-23, 2003. In preparation for this meeting, "working papers" were developed on each of the six topic areas. These papers provided background information and data supporting the need for additional research in these areas, as well as beginning thoughts on research questions and opportunities. During the meeting participants were divided into groups for facilitated discussions designed to refine the working papers and to develop the specific research agenda for each topic area.

The Rural Public Health Research Agenda is being disseminated to schools of public health, governmental agencies, private foundations and other institutions that support or have interest in public health policy and practice research throughout the United States. The Research Agenda was written to encourage researchers and funders to consider rural populations as they design and implement studies, stimulate new research activities looking at those issues that impact rural populations, and encourage funding agencies and foundations to consider rural research priorities as they prioritize funding opportunities.


The Center for Rural Health Practice (CRHP) at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford is the rural coordinating unit of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Public Health Preparedness (UPCPHP), assuring that new training initiatives reflect issues related to rural health preparedness.

The UPCPHP and the CRHP provide in-person, county-level training, targeting Pennsylvania's 48 rural counties. County EMA directors are recruited to host trainings and bring together all of their rural responders. Regional occupational safety and health administrative officers, EMA directors, and local Pennsylvania Department of Health staff are invited to present components of the training to assure connectedness to local issues and concerns.


The center provides hands-on learning opportunities for students interested in working in the public health field.
Justine Fox, an Exercise Science major from Warren, PA., received hands on experience through her internship at the Center for Rural Health Practice. Fox graduated in fall of 2016 and will be attending Bloomsburg University in the fall of 2017 as a master’s degree student in Exercise Science.

"The focus of my internship was geared towards the WalkWorks program. Throughout the semester I had the opportunity to work with both the community and Pitt's campus to encourage people to live healthier and more active lifestyles."

"This experience afforded me the opportunity to use what I learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world. It has also taught me valuable experiences that could not be learned specifically in a classroom setting. I am fortunate to have learned a lot during this experience and I am eager to continue to help improve the health of individuals and communities in the future."

Student Yara Elbeshbishi, a chemistry major from Montgomery Village, Md., took advantage of the opportunity by participating in a directed study at the center. Elbeshbishi is graduating this spring and will be attending the University of Pittsburgh this fall to get a master's degree in public health.

"I had the chance to work on the WalkWorks program, Nursing Education Preparation Initiative, Community Health Needs Assessment, A Randomized Study on College Health Center based Alcohol and Sexual Violence Intervention and many more projects," Elbeshbishi said.

"Getting the experience I have received from working with Dr. Lisa Fiorentino and her staff at the Center has given me perspective on the rural health setting of the public health field, which I would not have had the opportunity to get anywhere else. This directed study has helped me go beyond and the best part is that it is in Pitt-Bradford’s backyard. I am pursing my master’s degree in Public Health in the Fall of 2015, and I hope to affect lives and help people on the global level in the future."


For a Map of each route, select the community:




Mount Jewett

Port Allegany


Signs are placed to promote the walking routes in each community. Look for the larger signs in each town, with a map of the route. The QR code on the map, at the start of the route, can be scanned with a smart phone to link to online information. Smaller directional signs have been placed along the route to guide walkers. Soon Wayfinding signs will be available to communities to promote pedestrian tourism. As you travel through McKean County and across Pennsylvania, watch for WalkWorks signs. Stop, scan, and walk the route.

WalkWorks is a local walking program for people of all ages and abilities. Walking is one of the most popular options for physical activity.


  • Requires no special equipment
  • Saves gasoline and reduces CO2 emissions
  • It helps you lose or maintain your weight
  • Provides stress relief
  • Helps to lower blood pressure
  • Reverses normal age-related memory loss
  • Delays the development of Alzheimer's disease
  • Improves your ability to manage arthritis
  • Improves mood, aids in fighting depression

By becoming a part of WalkWorks, you can improve your health, socialize with friends and family
and enjoy the scenery in your community.

The Walking Revolution -

Walking Groups are now forming in McKean County. Each community has the opportunity to form walking groups by completing registration forms and working with a group leader. Schools, clubs and civic organizations are encouraged to participate as well as local businesses and groups of citizens who are interested in walking with others. Studies show that walking with others provides a support system as well as socialization through physical activity. Anyone can form a group. Just set your pace, set your date and time, and walk. WalkWorks registration helps your group to track your progress.

Walking Group Leader Guide

Registration Form

Group Log

Personal Activity Log

Walking Group Tips