Reba Benschoter, PhD, in the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute Studio, c. 1967



Reba Benschoter, PhD, in the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute Studio, c. 1967




Joining UNMC in the early 1960s, Reba Benschoter, PhD, worked with Cecil Wittson, MD, and engineer Van Johnson to develop increased access and improved mental health care for rural Nebraskans using video technology. She served as project director on a National Institute of Mental Health grant, which supported creation and operation of the first U.S. two-way closed-circuit interactive telemedicine system extending UNMC psychiatric services to Norfolk State Hospital in rural Nebraska. Dr. Benschoter’s groundbreaking work on CCTV is credited as one of the first telehealth education programs in the nation. Based on this success, similar services were established in rural Nebraska Veterans Administration hospitals to improve staff education and patient care. These programs enabled psychiatrists at metropolitan hospitals to provide services to rural programs while UNMC worked to train more students at NPI to fill this gap in rural health access.

By 1970, Dr. Benschoter became director of the Department of Biomedical Communications. In 1975, she led the development of a partnership with the Nebraska Educational Television Network. This network provided low-cost electronic access to UNMC education services in Nebraska communities. In 1991, she participated in the planning and implementation of the statewide satellite TV system, NEB*SAT, and was active in its governance, growth, and development.

As associate dean of the School of Allied Health Professions (1985-1995), Dr. Benschoter spearheaded the study of rural health needs and led the development of programs like the Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP) with Chadron State College, special rural admissions tracks, programs for non-traditional rural students, and the creation of rural training sites to allow students to remain close to their communities. In 1990, she helped build the Rural Health Education Network (RHEN), creating mutually beneficial relationships with Nebraska communities to support health education. Many of these programs still operate today.

Dr. Benschoter served as director of Biomedical Communications until her retirement in 2000 and is a professor emeritus in the College of Allied Health Professions.




From the McGoogan Health Sciences Library Special Collections and Archives


Department of Psychiatry

Item sets

Site pages