3RNet Blog

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Our members know their states! Learn what makes Iowa a wonderful place to live and work from our member, Cristie!

Name: Cristie Duric

City, State: Des Moines, Iowa

Organization: Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Policy and Workforce Services, Rural Health Programs

How is 3RNet impacting Iowa?
3RNet supports recruitment of primary care providers in rural communities across Iowa. In 2019, Iowa employers posted 230 opportunities and over 7,000 registered candidates logged in to view job details. As a result, 1,375 referrals were made. The benefit of 3RNet is the focus on rural recruitment, the ability of the member to monitor and approve employer registrations, and the automatic referrals that are generated based on the profile interests of the candidates and the job opportunities. These factors contribute to the successful connection between a candidate and an employer, and increase the likelihood of a provider to live and work in rural Iowa. In turn, access to healthcare is positively impacted, which is a priority for Iowa.

What are the best cultural events that happen in Iowa?
There are many opportunities to celebrate different cultures across Iowa. Cultural Festivals are held throughout the year to celebrate multicultural heritage. For example, the Pella Tulip Time is an annual event commemorating European heritage, and includes tulip garden viewing, Dutch dancing, and food. Another great festival is Oktoberfest, which is a German festival in the Amana Colonies featuring authentic German food, dancing, and flare. Iowa's Latino Heritage Festival is another exciting event in Iowa that celebrates Latino cultures. Visit Travel Iowa for a comprehensive list of events.

Why should a health professional choose Iowa over surrounding states?
There are many desirable attributes to living and working in Iowa from affordability to low crime rate. Iowa’s capital, Des Moines, was voted the fifth best place to live in 2019. Even though it is a desirable place to live, housing remains very affordable. The average price for a home is $200,000 and potentially less if living in a rural area of the state. The educational system is one of the best in the country and, combined with the lower cost of living, makes Iowa a great place to raise a family. For more information about other Iowa perks, visit the This is Iowa website.

What loan repayment programs does Iowa have?
There are several opportunities to engage in state loan repayment programs for primary care practitioners in Iowa. 

Primary Care Provider Loan Repayment Program is a federal- and state- funded program that provides assistance with repayment of educational loans to primary care medical, dental, and mental health practitioners. In exchange, practitioners must complete a minimum, 2-year service obligation at an eligible practice site/s located in a federally designated health professional shortage area (HPSA). Candidates must meet certain requirements to qualify and are subject to a maximum award depending on the health care discipline. 

Rural Iowa Primary Loan Repayment Program is a state-funded program that provides loan repayment incentives for medical students of Des Moines University of Osteopathic Medicine or the University of Iowa who agree to practice as physicians in rural areas for 5 years following completion of residency. 

Health Professional Recruitment Program (HPRP) is a state- and community-funded loan repayment program for graduates of Des Moines University’s D.O, D.P.M., D.P.T., and PA Programs in exchange for a 4-year service obligation in a medically underserved community. 

Health care Loan Repayment Program is a state-funded program that provides assistance with repayment of education loans to registered nurses, advanced registered nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in exchange for a service commitment of 5 consecutive years in an eligible area. 

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is a federal program offering loan repayment and scholarships on a national level. It is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the Department of Health and Human Services. Participation in NHSC programs must be performed in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). 

Nurse Corps Scholarship Program is a federally funded program that provides scholarship support for students of the following programs: Graduate Level Nurse Practitioner, Associate Degree School of Nursing, Collegiate School of Nursing, Diploma School of Nursing, and Nursing Bridge Program Nursing. Students are eligible to receive funding for their training in exchange for a minimum 2-year service commitment at an eligible Nurse Corps facility upon graduation. Locations are Critical Shortage Facilities (CSF) and designated as HPSAs. 

Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program offers funding to registered nurses (RNs), advanced registered nurses, and nurse faculty for payment of their qualifying educational loans in exchange for a minimum 2-year service obligation at a Critical Shortage Facility (CSF). Or, they serve as nurse faculty (NF) in an eligible school of nursing.

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in Iowa?
The Conrad J-1 visa waiver program is one way to address the shortage of physicians in rural and urban areas in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Public Health receives requests and makes recommendations for waivers on behalf of physicians holding J-1 visas in accordance with the Conrad State 30 program.

Waiver requests are accepted for physicians who provide primary health care, mental health care, and specialty care. Recipients of a waiver agree to a service commitment in an underserved area of the state, as designated by the federal government. There are currently 30 available spots annually, 10 of which may be considered as a flex spot for physicians who agree to work in non-designated areas, yet still serve residents in underserved areas.

Are healthcare professionals valued in Iowa? 
Healthcare professionals are a vital component to the health and well-being of all Iowans. Along with other states in recent years, Iowa is experiencing a shortage of primary care providers. There are many reasons for this, such as insufficient medical residency spots or aging professionals going into retirement, among others. Both public and private entities recognize the priority of recruiting and retaining healthcare providers in Iowa. As a result, there are a number of programs focused on healthcare workforce expansion. Some examples include introducing healthcare industry job types as early as kindergarten to raise awareness and interest; supporting loan repayment programs, scholarships, and enhanced reimbursement for providers who desire to work in rural, underserved areas of the state; providing grants to medical schools to increase residency spots; and supporting critical access hospitals and other safety net providers to ensure access to care for Iowans.  

Why do people travel to Iowa?
There are many reasons to plan a trip to Iowa throughout the year. Some prime reasons to visit Iowa are the Iowa State Fair, the Des Moines Downtown Farmers Market, and the beautiful Bridges of Madison County.           

The Iowa State Fair is the largest state fair in the nation with more than a million visitors annually. The fair occurs in August for 11 days and includes great food, music, carnival rides, and many other events.

The Des Moines Downtown Farmers Market represents over half of the counties across Iowa, drawing entrepreneurs, farmers, artists, and many other types of vendors. The market opens up in May and is held every Saturday through October. Typically, there are up to 300 vendors and 25,000 visitors each week.

The Bridges of Madison County are world-famous covered bridges and are the inspiration behind and setting of the movie "The Bridges of Madison County”. Originally, there were 19 covered bridges built in Madison County, Iowa during the late 19th Century. Today, 6 covered bridges remain.

What sports teams does Iowa have?
Iowa is home to four Division 1 teams: the Drake Bulldogs, the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Iowa Cyclones, and the Northern Iowa Panthers. Additionally, Iowa has several minor league sports teams, such as the Iowa Cubs baseball team which is part of the American Association Pacific Coast League and the Iowa Wild, an ice hockey team registered with the American Hockey League, and also an affiliate of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. 

What is your favorite local food?
Since Iowa is an agricultural state, Iowa pork is top on the list. Pork chops and breaded tenderloins are among the most popular lunch or dinner fare. The Twin Bing candy bar, made at the Palmer Candy Company located in Sioux City, has been around for decades and is an iconic Iowa treat.  

What is Iowa best known for?
The Iowa caucuses are local, community-based meetings that take place biennially to discuss and vote on presidential and midterm election candidates. The caucuses are significant because they kick-off the United States presidential primary season.

Iowa is also widely known for hosting the RAGBRAI which is a seven-day bicycle ride across the state, covering an average of 468 miles and is the largest recreational bicycle touring event in the world. The ride takes place annually and draws 8,500 riders from around the world.  

What are the biggest industries in Iowa?
According to the Iowa Economic Authority, Iowa is predominantly an agricultural state and is the leading producer of corn, eggs, and pork in the United States. Additionally, finance and insurance are also substantial, supporting 94,000 employees across Iowa.

How is the weather/climate in Iowa?
Iowa is a four-season state. Spring is full of beautiful flowers and tree blooms, but also serves as the beginning of tornado and flood season. Summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit and can be very humid. Fall varies in temperature and is also a beautiful time of the year as the leaves begin to change color. In winter, there are likely freezing temperatures and snow accumulation is likely. 

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