Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Sarah Nielsen


rural, scoping review, ancillary health professionals, allied health, workforce


Introduction Rural communities are home to nearly one-fifth of the American population, and they face unique challenges when working to access healthcare (Health Resources & Services Administration, 2021; Slagle et al., 2012). Ancillary health professionals (AHPs) are healthcare professionals, excluding physicians, nurses, and dentists (Ancillary Care Services, 2015). The scholarly project aimed to find what evidence existed in regard to bridging the gap between the healthcare needs of rural communities, and the availability of AHPs.

Methods The scoping review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines (Tricco et al., 2018). Based on the findings of the scoping review, additional products were developed and disseminated. Projects were developed following Dunn et al.’s (1994) framework, Ecology of Human Performance, in an attempt to understand the person, context, and task interactions to increase the overall performance range of rural AHPs.

Results At the completion of the scholarly project, the researcher had developed several products including: (a) a rural health lecture, (b) a newsletter discussing the resources available through the Rural Health Information Hub, (c) an advocacy letter to a state licensure board discussing increased data collection, (d) a poster presentation on the benefits of more licensure data collection, (e) a poster on the findings of the scoping review, and (f) a scoping review produced for journal publication consideration.

Discussion There continues to be a need for increased rural healthcare access and greater AHP workforce development. Education, recruitment, and retention are all valuable components in expanding the AHP performance range to ensure that the needs of rural communities can be appropriately addressed. By preparing students for future rural practice, and ensuring that practitioners have the appropriate supports, the AHP workforce can be enhanced and bolstered to meet and exceed the healthcare needs of rural communities.