Wayne State College officials recently were pleased — with good reason — to be able to announce that its Rural Health Opportunities Program — commonly referred to as RHOP — was expanding.

In addition to the previous nine career pathways that have been part of the program, the program now offers a path to earning a doctor of occupational therapy degree via the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Occupational therapy joins dental hygiene, dentistry, medical lab science, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant and radiography as participating programs.

The expansion is also good news for rural Nebraskans interested in pursuing a career in occupational therapy as well as clinics and hospitals in outstate communities.

“Occupational therapy is an exciting and diverse field for students seeking a career helping others,” said Dr. Ron Loggins, dean of the School of Science, Health and Criminal Justice at Wayne State. “Occupational therapists might assist a person recovering from a stroke regain movement and activity or they might work with children with sensory issues. Adding OT to the RHOP offerings is going to help recruit and keep these professionals here in rural Nebraska.”

The premise of the RHOP program has proven successful. Students from designated rural areas may apply for admission to the program. Once accepted, and if they meet certain requirements as undergraduates, they receive full-tuition scholarships to help with their cost of education; internship and other career activities; and then — the plum — guaranteed admission to UNMC to pursue their chosen medical degree.

In return, the students agree to practice in rural areas for a designated period of time, thereby supplying critically needed medical professionals for areas of the state that often face shortages of qualified practitioners.

The RHOP program is also available at Peru State College and Chadron State College. It’s been such a successful concept that a version of it — called RLOP — later was created for rural students interested in law careers.

It’s not always easy to recruit medical professionals to serve in rural areas, although many embrace the opportunity and lifestyle once familiar with it. That’s why an effective program — like RHOP — is needed to ensure accessibility to quality medical care in underserved rural areas.

The RHOP program has been a successful part of Wayne State’s offerings for more than 30 years. There’s no reason to believe it won’t be around for many more decades to come.

In other news

PIERCE — November was Diabetes Awareness Month. My granddaughter, McKenna Aablers Schaefer of Albion, has had diabetes since she was 1 year old. Even though I’m a nurse who has studied diabetes, she has taught me more than textbooks can.

About a month ago, I was traveling on the subway in Philadelphia when I was attacked by a young African-American male in a hoodie, who was angry that I was filming him after he’d punched me in the head moments before.

Last month, a 39-year-old Black man in Waukesha, Wisconsin, plowed a maroon Ford Escape into a Christmas parade of children and older women. Five people were killed and another 48 were injured.

NORFOLK — The 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor — Dec. 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy — will soon be upon us. At 7:55 a.m. Hawaiian time on Dec. 7, 1941, the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

I dare you to look, with a clear and unfiltered lens, at the bloody nightmare we once called the United States of America.