March 19, 2018

SIU to host forum on rural health careers March 24

Southern Illinois University Carbondale is hosting a forum Saturday that focuses on careers in rural health. The Rural Health Careers Forum is open to college students, high school upper classmen and anyone who is looking to change careers.

The event is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Student Center’s Mississippi Room and includes a complimentary lunch. The forum is free, but participants must register by Thursday on the Illinois Rural Health Association website. For more information, contact Margaret Vaughn, the organization’s executive director, at

Forum will provide insight into health care careers

Vicki Brown, a junior in SIU’s Health Care Management program from Coulterville, is helping plan the forum. She is the first SIU health care management student appointed to the IRHA board.

“The purpose of the forum is to expose students to a diverse variety of careers in high demand in the rural health arena,” Brown said. “There will be a panel discussion with top healthcare administrators, IT experts, mental health professionals, clinicians, and graduate students, who will provide insight on what their careers entail and offer students advice on the best way to get there.”

Panel discussion starts at 11 a.m.

The panelists are:

  • Cheri Kelly, associate professor, family and community medicine, SIU Physician Assistant Program
  • Douglas Toole, public health administrator, Vermilion County Health Department
  • Kathy Swafford, rural physician, Union County Hospital
  • Jan Farmer, family medicine administrator, SIU Family and Community Medicine, Carbondale-School of Medicine, Springfield
  • Jennifer Hammonds, licensed clinical social worker, SIU Family and Community Medicine Carbondale-School of Medicine, Springfield
  • Heather Ferguson, health information supervisor, Shawnee Health Service
  • Beth Heaney, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, Shawnee Health Service
  • Nathan Devenney, third-year medical school student, University of Illinois 

About the Illinois Rural Health Association

The IRHA, 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.