On the third Thursday of November every year, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health leads National Rural Health Day, an annual day of recognition for those who serve the vital health needs of nearly 60 million people residing in America’s rural communities, estimated to be 1 in 5 Americans.

NOSORH is the member organization serving all 50 State Offices of Rural Health.

Julie Crotts was named the Community Star on behalf of the Cancer Centers of Kansas, Dodge City and will appear in the 2018 edition that will be available on the www.PowerofRural.org website, the official hub for National Rural Health Day and the Power of Rural movement, which began in November this year.

"When Julie Crotts was just 14 years young living in rural Kansas, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma," said Sara Douglas, PIVOT-KUCC of Cancer Centers of Kansas Dodge City. "Today, she is a dedicated and driven oncology nurse practitioner; but more than that, she is an inspiration.

"In her role at Cancer Center of Kansas in Dodge City, Julie, like many in her position, wears several hats, including assessing new patients, reviewing and explaining various test results, answering questions about medication side effects, and educating those who are newly diagnosed about their treatment plans, as well as administering their chemotherapy.

"What sets Julie apart from others in this role? She is a patient herself at the University of Kansas Cancer Center Survivorship Transition Clinic. Julie’s ongoing personal journey provides her with profound insight and a special bond that only cancer patients share.

"Fueled by her passion for healthcare equity, Julie uses her clinical knowledge and love of rural to be an advocate for rural health. She is a member of Patient and Investigator Voices Organizing Together, which is an initiative designed to champion greater community and patient engagement into all aspects of The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

"Julie has served as the Chair of PIVOT’s Patient Leader Team and Research Task Force group and has been a most enthusiastic member of a Health Equity Workgroup with KU researchers addressing the disparities in her community."

Douglas went on to say that while it may be difficult to imagine that Crotts has time to do more for cancer patients and their families, she was instrumental in launching the center’s iSurvive project, which provides education about cancer survivorship to rural primary care practices and communities in Kansas.

"Her tireless efforts to ensure the program’s educational material and curriculum were impeccable and spoke to patients from their viewpoint are credited for the project’s success," Douglas said.

When asked what she believes is the Power of Rural, Crotts said, "To me, it is the spirit of the people living in rural communities. They are strong, passionate, loyal people who support each other in times of need."

"She wasn’t thinking of herself when she shared her thoughts, but all who know and cherish her agree, these words describe Julie to a T," said Douglas.

SORHs provide support to rural hospitals, clinics, and first responders in several ways including technical assistance, funding that supports workforce development, population health management, quality improvement initiatives, and more.

In 2015, NOSORH asked SORHs to nominate hospital and emergency first responder teams, community health, and volunteer service heroes on the front lines of rural health who were making a positive impact on rural lives.

Soon after the stories started coming, the book of National Rural Health Day Community Stars was published.