May 22, 2023 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
More than a thousand rural health professionals were on hand at the National Rural Health Association’s annual conference this month to honor Elizabeth Crouch’s contributions to rural America. The health services policy and management (HSPM) associate professor and Rural and Minority Health Research Center director was recognized with one of the Association’s top honors: the 2023 Outstanding Researcher Award.
This award is designed to celebrate an individual’s health services research, which has the potential to make long-lasting contributions to rural health. Crouch was selected for her examination of health disparities experienced among rural and other vulnerable populations across the lifespan, from adverse childhood experiences to Medicare utilization in older adults.
“Dr. Crouch is a committed rural health researcher and educator, whose research has advanced the field while her teaching and her sponsorship of graduate students within the Rural and Minority Health Research Center has helped foster the next generation of rural researchers,” says Jan Probst, former director of the Center and the 2008 recipient of the award. “Her scientific work and her expertise at communicating findings to the health care community make her more than deserving of this award.”
Crouch’s connection to rural America began when she was a kid. While spending much of each summer with her grandparents in Kentucky, she accompanied her grandfather – a large animal vet – on his visits to rural farms. A knack for numbers led to a financial economics degree from Centre College, followed by master’s (applied economics and statistics) and doctoral (policy studies) degrees from Clemson University.
In 2017, she was selected to join the 2018 cohort of the National Rural Health Association’s Rural Health Fellows Program. The following year, she was invited to serve a three-year term for the organization’s Journal of Rural Health. By 2020, Crouch had been elected to its Board of Trustees, where she currently chairs Rural Health Congress efforts.
Additional service positions include her advisory role for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Rural Healthy People 2030/2040 National Workgroup. In South Carolina, Crouch is a member of the advisory board for the SC Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare.
On campus, her leadership activities have grown as well. 2018-2022 saw Crouch serving as deputy director for the Rural and Minority Health Research Center, which she has led as director since 2022. Around this time, she also took on the role of graduate director for the Master of Public Health in HSPM program.
Over the years, Crouch has advanced her research program. She works closely with community partners across the state to design and assess studies and interventions (e.g., home visitation programs, abuse/neglect prevention) aimed at understanding and addressing the unique challenges faced by rural families. She is particularly interested in the effects of childhood experiences, both adverse and positive, and exploring ways to shift these experiences toward the positive end of the spectrum for rural children to improve their health outcomes and quality of life.
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