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Scott Daniels has been in health care for over fifteen years where he began as an analyst doing community health reports and analyzing hospital quality. In 2005, Scott began working for the Hawaii State Office of Rural Health as the Performance Improvement Coordinator where he oversaw the state's Flex program. He also served as interim chief of the office from 2006 to 2008.

Scott was gracious enough to let us pick his brain about rural health, his leadership roles in NOSORH and 3RNet, and of course we had to ask a question or two about the great state of Hawaii.

What drew you to working in rural health for Hawaii?

Before I worked for the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, I worked as a health data analyst. One of the things I would do was run quality reports for the hospitals, but these were pretty much useless for small volume hospitals. So I started trying to find ways to better measure quality in small volume hospitals. Someone in the Hawaii State Office heard about my work and asked me to join them, which I eventually did. 

What has made you stick with it?

For the longest time it was because I was the only one in the state that was doing it and I did not want the work to stop. Beyond that, the work is varied and so it tends to stay fresh and interesting.

You wear many hats and have a lot of responsibilities with the work you do. What’s your main goal – what do you try to work towards everyday – regardless of what program you’re working on?

The main goal is ensuring that people in rural communities are able to receive high-quality services close to where they live. I am constantly looking for ways to better integrate services in rural communities so that people feel that the best source of care for them is right in their own community.

You’ve served on several health-related committees for your state.

What do you enjoy about this type of work?

The main thing I enjoy about the work is the opportunity it provides to develop integrated systems of care in rural communities. Working on committees puts me in touch with people that have much more experience than me on the topic, but I get to be the person that reminds them to think how this applies to rural areas. 

What does this work mean for you and your state?

It provides me with contacts that have more experience that I can work with later in trying to develop integrated systems of care. 

You’ve held several key positions within NOSORH, and you’re THE contact for 3RNet in the state of Hawaii. What does it mean to you to be such a key component to these national programs aimed at supporting rural health?

It is all a bit surprising to me. I had some very good mentors when I first started working in rural health and I always felt that I should try and give back for the support I received. I guess my debt has finally caught up with me.

How do NOSORH and 3RNet ‘work together’ for you?

Both provide a community that I can refer to when I have questions. I find both organizations to be full of helpful people willing to provide answers to anyone’s questions. Being able to leverage the training and knowledge provided by both organizations allows our office to better provide to our rural communities.

For those of us not lucky enough to call Hawaii home, what would you say (or what do you say) to a health professional interested in working in Hawaii?

Hawai‘i is a great place, but honestly it can be a tough place to live if you do not find ways to integrate yourself with the community. Rural here is more isolated than most rural areas in the United States. If you are not on O‘ahu, you are at least a plane ride (and all that entails) away from the city. Furthermore, this is the most remote island chain in the world, making your isolation sometimes feel even more daunting. The physicians that have come to Hawai‘i that have stayed have created connections in Hawai‘i that help them feel they are a part of the community and less isolated.

Does Hawaii have any loan repayment programs for health professionals? If so, can you include links to where interested people can learn more about these opportunities?

There is a program that started recently and is open to physicians, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, physician assistants, health service psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

Applications for 2015 just opened up and information can be found at http://www.ahec.hawaii.edu/?page_id=54

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