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Rita Osborn - Southern Utah University. Cedar City, UT, US

Rita Osborn

Executive Director of Utah Center for Rural Health | Southern Utah University


Specializing in rural Utah healthcare, community building, and project management.


Rita Osborn is the executive director of the Utah Center for Rural Health. Osborn founded the highly successful Rural Health Scholars program at Southern Utah University, significantly broadening learning opportunities for undergraduate students and raising acceptance rates to graduate health professional programs. The program has since expanded to Dixie State University and Snow College.

She has written and overseen successful grants and contracts to support many programs, including two recent $1 million federal grants to address the opioid crisis in several rural counties in Utah. Osborn founded the Free Clinic that operated in Cedar City until 2013 when it became a Federally Qualified Health Center. She continued to chair or serve on the board for the Family Health Center that operates five clinics in the region.

Osborn is most passionate about assisting and advising students who aspire for health career careers, particularly for first-generation students who hail from rural or disadvantaged backgrounds. She is always enthused when such students matriculate to graduate programs, believing that we are helping to change our health care system in some small way. She also serves on statewide entities that include the Workforce Task Force with the Utah Hospital Association, the Utah Telemedicine Advisory Council, the Rural Health Association of Utah, along with others.

Osborn’s thesis addressed health care shortages and challenges in southern Utah. She volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and works with foster children, leading to recent recognition as Iron County's CASA Advocate of the Year. In partnership with a local faith-based organization and drawing upon USDA federal grants, Osborn created and oversees summer lunch and after-school food programs in Iron County that for over a decade have fed hundreds of children daily.







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Industry Expertise (2)


Health Care - Providers

Areas of Expertise (7)

Community Health Programs

Rural Health Care Access & Delivery

Property Management



Community Building

Utah's Opioid Crisis

Education (2)

Southern Utah University: M.A., Business Administration

California State University at San Bernardino: B.A., Public Administration

Accomplishments (5)

Achievement in Experiential Learning Award

Southern Utah university, 2014

Utah Campus Compact Engaged Scholar

Southern Utah University, 2007

Thunderbird Advisor of the Year

Southern Utah University, 2007, 2009, 2012

CASA Advocate of the Year

Iron County

Hero in Healthcare Award

Family Healthcare, 2018

Affiliations (8)

  • Primary Care Statutory Committee
  • Utah TeleHealth Network Committee
  • Solid Rock, International, Governing Board
  • With Love, From Strangers, Governing Board
  • CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Volunteer
  • Family Healthcare – Community Health Centers – Board Chair
  • Southwest Utah CHC – Board of Directors, Finance Committee, Public Relations Committee
  • Rocky Vista College of Osteopathic Medicine Start up Task Force and Admissions Selection Committee

Media Appearances (5)

Southern Utah University awarded grant to help rural Southern Utahns with opioid addiction

Cedar City News  online


Southern Utah University has been awarded a $1 million HRSA federal grant to help in the effort to battle opioid addiction in rural Southern Utah. “In our rural communities, we know that stigma, the need to stay employed and raising your family keeps many people from seeking recovery services,” Rita Osborn, executive director of SUU’s Utah Center for Rural Health, said in a news release.

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SUU Receives $1 Million Grant from HHS to Combat the Opioid Crisis

SUU News  online


“The grant will give the Consortium the necessary funding over the next three years to better equip rural healthcare providers and organizations to help provide services equal to what patients may find in urban areas,” states Rita Osborn, executive director of the Center for Rural Health and principal investigator for the grant.

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SUU Opioid Response Planning Grant

Utah Department of Health  online


The Utah Center for Rural Health (UCRH) at Southern Utah University has received a planning grant of $200,000 for combating the opioid use disorder. The grant was awarded in September as part of series of grants from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) aimed at combating the opioid crisis.

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Talking U & Med Student Life:

University of Utah  radio


Set against the beautiful back drop of Cedar City Utah, Southern Utah State University offers it 8000 plus students a private feel (but with public cost) environment. Well known for its high acceptance rate, cultural immersion trips and helping students to get involved with leadership with local communities, the Rural Health Scholars Program at SUU is successfully promoting rural and primary care medicine. I interviewed Rita Osbourn, premed advisor at SUU and Associate Director at the Utah Center of Rural Health to discuss what the secret to the success of the program is and why Cedar City is the place to be.

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New medical schools — osteopathic and traditional — headed to Utah?

The Salt Lake Tribune  online


Rita Osborn of the Utah Center for Rural Health believes the state can develop a rural residency program. "We have an abundance of rural practitioners who are willing to teach," she said.

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Research Grants (2)

HRSA Rural Network Planning Grant

Health Resources and Services Administration $1M

Southern Utah University has been awarded a federal grant to help battle the Opioid epidemic impacting rural America. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded nearly $1 million to SUU’s Utah Center for Rural Health. This investment will enable the HRSA-funded rural organizations to establish and expand access to integrated substance use disorder and mental health services.

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Opioid Response Program-Planning Grant

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at the Health Resources and Services Administration $200,000

The Utah Center for Rural Health (UCRH) at Southern Utah University has received a planning grant of $200,000 for combating the opioid use disorder. The grant was awarded in September as part of series of grants from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) aimed at combating the opioid crisis.

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Courses (2)

SCI 3000 - Health Care Exploration - Rural Health Scholars

This course assists pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-P.A., pre-optometry, pre-pharmacy. and other undergraduate health students prepare for entry into professional schools. Includes opportunities to hear guest speakers, participate in health-related service learning projects, and obtain a CPR and First Aid Certification.

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BIOL 2120 - Service Learning

This course is designed to take the student volunteer through the process of volunteerism and its application to themselves and their academic training in biology through practical experience and critical reflection.

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