BOZEMAN — A Montana State University College of Nursing faculty member has been chosen to advise the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary on health care challenges in rural America.

Kellie Phillips-Asay, clinical instructor at MSU College of Nursing’s Billings campus. (MSU Photo)

Kellie Phillips-Asay, clinical instructor on the MSU College of Nursing’s Billings campus, has been named to the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services, part of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The committee has up to 21 members who each serve for a period of four years.

“I’m very proud to be able to represent nursing and represent the state of Montana and the rich culture and history that is part of the whole area and the people that come with it,” Phillips-Asay said. “It feels amazing to be able to represent the Native community on this national advisory committee aimed at improving health in rural areas. I’m especially proud to be a female representing our Native communities.” Phillips-Asay, who was born in South Dakota and raised in Pennsylvania, is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services is a citizens' panel of nationally recognized rural health experts with expertise in the delivery, financing, research, development and administration of health and human services in rural areas. The committee meets twice a year in rural locations to examine pertinent issues that affect the health and well-being of rural Americans and to hear directly from rural stakeholders. The committee then provides recommendations on rural issues to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As part of her work at MSU, Phillips-Asay serves as the course coordinator for two courses, research in health care and nursing care of children and families, that are taken by upper division nursing students on the MSU College of Nursing’s Billings campus. In addition, she is a registered nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Billings Clinic. Her previous nursing experience includes positions with the Urban Indian Health Board in Billings and at the Indian Health Service’s Crow/Northern Cheyenne unit in Crow Agency. Phillips-Asay has a master’s degree in nursing from The University of Arizona and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from MSU.

Phillips-Asay said she hopes to help bring about positive change in rural Montana through her work on the committee.

“If I can bring one change to Montana in the four years that I’m on this committee – one kind of meaningful policy change to help our community members and health care consumers – that would be huge,” she said. “I want to make a difference.”

She also hopes that regularly visiting and learning from other rural communities across the nation could translate into benefits for rural Montana.

“If something someone else is doing can help us, I’ll be thinking about how to bring that back to Montana,” Phillips-Asay said.

Sarah Shannon, dean of the MSU College of Nursing, said that Phillips-Asay’s appointment to the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services is invaluable to the state of Montana.

“This national committee has between 15 and 21 members who are appointed by the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary to serve a 4-year term where they are expected to speak to the diverse health issues faced in rural America,” Shannon said. “Members represent rural hospitals and other types of facilities, and physicians, nurses, mental health providers and other clinicians with experience practicing in rural areas. Ms. Phillips-Asay was chosen because of her rural health expertise and deep knowledge of the challenges and barriers to health for Montana’s rural people, particularly Native American communities. We are so proud that Kellie will be representing Montana – and rural nursing – on this national committee.”

Founded in 1937, MSU’s College of Nursing offers bachelor’s, accelerated bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral-level nursing education to produce nurses, nurse leaders, nurse educators and nurse practitioners for Montana. The college uses a distributed model with campuses in communities across the state, including Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula. MSU is the largest producer of registered nurses in Montana and is the sole provider of doctoral nurse practitioner education in the state. More information about the college is available at montana.edu/nursing/.

To learn more about the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services, visit hrsa.gov/advisory-committees/rural-health/.

- By Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service -