In 1977, Deaconess Medical Center, Spokane, Washington, was receiving requests for assistance from rural hospitals in the four state service area. These requests included the need for help with educational classes to be brought to the facilities; clinical experiences at Deaconess, policies and procedures, etc. An advisory committee of department directors was formed to develop a program to help meet the needs as requested by the rural hospitals. In 1978 the "Outreach Program: Sharing Knowledge" became a reality. Administration appointed Anna Mae Ericksen director of the program.
Grants were next received to assist Deaconess to administrate the project and to make it cost effective for the rural hospitals. Sixteen rural directors of nursing service and educators were asked to serve on a nursing advisory committee and work with the Deaconess Directors and to meet monthly at Deaconess. Educational classes requested by the individual hospitals were designed by Deaconess Specialists in consortium with the requesting facility to meet each hospital's need. Deaconess specialists were the presenters and scheduling was done by both parties. In 1984 the nursing advisory committee voted to plan a 1985 conference for rural nurses by rural nurses. 285 RNs and LPNs attended the first conference. Plans were made to annually present a conference with the nursing advisory committee serving as the conference planning committee. A logo for the conference was designed depicting a rural theme. At the 1987 conference, Anna Mae Ericksen was presented with a medallion designed with the logo. At the 1988 conference, Anna Mae spoke to the registrants about her vision for a rural nurse organization. The idea was enthusiastically received and plans made to move ahead with forming the organization. Seed money was received from the registrants to assist with costs. A steering committee of 25 nurses from three states and one Canadian province met to develop the purpose and definition of the organization as well as define the term "rural". Goals and objectives were established. Committees were formed and requested to have reports ready for the 1989 conference.
Today the RNO has members from around the world. Our conferences typically rotate from West to East Coast of the US every other year. The official organ of the RNO is the Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care which is in its 11th year of publication. The journal is referenced in CINAHL and EBSCO and is considered a leading source for research in rural nursing and the health of rural populations.
The mission of the RNO is shaping rural health care through nursing leadership and education. Our vision includes healthy communities, supportive worksites, and expert nurses specializing in rural nursing.
Click here to become download an RNO membership application: http://www.rno.org/downloads/rno_membership_application_2011.pdf
Last Updated: 8/26/11