February 15, 2018

SIU health care management student named to rural health board

by Pete Rosenbery

Vicki BrownCARBONDALE, Ill. — Vicki Brown, a junior in health care management at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has been appointed to the Illinois Rural Health Association (IRHA) board. 

Brown, of Coulterville, is the first SIU health care management student appointed to the 12-member board. Brown is one of two students on the board and her two-year appointment is through January 2020. 

The organization, organized in 1989, is a collaboration of more than 725 health care providers, including hospitals, rural health clinics, public health departments, public officials and students whose mission is to strengthen rural healthcare systems. 

A “leader” within the health care management program 

Jessica Cataldo, a clinical instructor in SIU’s program, said Brown was the first person she thought of after receiving the notice for IRHA board members. 

“Vicki is not only incredibly intelligent but she is also a very hard worker,” Cataldo said. “In class, it is evident that she has emerged as a leader in the program, not because she demands that role but because others trust to follow her lead. I have no doubts she will represent herself, the program, and the university well.” 

Brown is “an exceptional individual and she will be a strong advocate for the health interests of rural Illinoisans,” Sandra K. Collins professor and Health Care Management program director, said. 

Brown participated in her first board meeting Jan. 31. 

“We are thrilled to have Vicki serve on our Board,” Margaret Vaughn, IRHA executive director, said. “We believe her background working in the healthcare arena for over 20 years and her great enthusiasm will be a great asset to our organization.” 

More than 25 years in the medical field 

Brown is pursuing a minor in long-term care administration. She expects to graduate in 2019 and pursue a master’s degree at SIU Carbondale, either in public health or applying to the physician’s assistant program. 

She has more than 25 years experience in rural healthcare as a physical therapist assistant, including working in acute care, long-term care, outpatient clinics and home health throughout the region.

“Education has always been of utmost importance to me, and I firmly believe that it is my duty to myself to be a part of the healthcare system,” Brown said.

Believes rural areas need better access to healthcare  

Brown believes that there is a need in rural areas “for better access of care and that advocating in an effort to increase the number of rural healthcare professionals is a need.” A few issues Brown sees in rural health care include shortages of healthcare professionals and raising awareness of the opioid crisis through the state. 

“I look forward to working with all of the board and networking with other healthcare professionals and legislators in Illinois,” Brown said. “I’m both honored and proud to be part of the IRHA. I look forward to representing the SIU healthcare management program. Being a part of the organization and participating in educating and improving public awareness of issues facing rural health are very important to me.” 

Health Career Forum will showcase healthcare careers in March 

Brown is helping the IRHA organize a Student Rural Health Career Forum next month in the Student Center’s Mississippi Room. The forum will give college and upper-level high school students an opportunity to see the variety of high-demand careers available in rural health care.

The forum is free and lunch is included. Registration information will be available at www.ilruralhealth.org

Is part of a Saluki family 

Brown and her husband, Scott, have two daughters and a stepdaughter. Her oldest daughter, Katie Little, recently graduated from SIU in May 2017 from the social work program. Another daughter, Emily, will be attending SIU in this fall majoring in art. 

“I believe we are a Saluki family. I feel that I am getting the best education at SIU,” she said. “I have wonderful professors, and my experience at SIU has been nothing short of exceptional.”