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Idaho Condor is currently looking for volunteers to participate in a medical mission to Peru March 18 - 28th, 2017. Each year, Idaho Condor sends an expedition to Peru made up of professionals, students, and community members. They have surgery teams that work in local hospitals, medical and dental units that improvise clinics in small villages, and research personnel who study the people and the conditions in which they live. The organization strives to help both individuals and communities realize a better tomorrow. For more information on the organization and expedition, please visit their website.

Idaho Condor Humanitarian, Inc. is a national non-profit dedicated to providing cost-free medical care to the indigent of Peru. The organization is built on the idea that a collective of caring people can affect positive changes on individuals, communities and nations. They are supported by taxpayers as a 501(c)(3) organization and by the generosity of donors. They have no paid staff or administration, maintaining their activities completely through volunteer service. The money that comes through their organization does not inure to the benefit of any officers or volunteers of the company, but to the children and the needy of the towns and villages we visit while in Peru. They are a service agency with a focus on the overall health and well-being of the recipient. If interested in participating in this medical mission, please contact Luke Nelson at 208-705-3508, or via email at

Project Access is an outreach recruitment program that aims to encourage middle school, high school, and undergraduate students from underrepresented minority groups to consider the PA profession as a career. The primary goal of Project Access is to increase the number of minority PAs, provide more accessible primary care, and eliminate health disparities. Physician Assistants who attend the AAPA or PAEA meeting are asked to go to these high schools and colleges to meet with these students and discuss how they can become competitive candidates for PA programs.

I recently represented Project Access at Edison High School in Minneapolis while attending the PAEA meeting. Two other PA educators and two local Physician Assistant students accompanied me to talk to 20 high school students. We had a lively discussion about the different medical professions, the need for good grades in addition to making sure they have the appropriate college courses to enhance their acceptance into their chosen medical field. The students always ask interesting questions and it is a pleasure to meet the future of health care in this country. 

I would encourage anyone who is attending a national meeting to contact Project Access and go to one of these high schools or colleges. You not only will find future PAs but also students who plan on going into a variety of health care professions.

The ISU PAS program had strong representation at the annual meeting of the Education Forum of the Physician Assistants Education Association on October 13 -16, 2016. Christine Hall, Marvin Sparell, Alan Mirly, and Melanie Domenech Rodríguez attended the meeting giving ISU a strong physical presence in addition to the research representation. Domenech Rodríguez and Mirly presented a research brief based on data available from the Pipeline to Diversity, a Health Resources and Services Administration grant to the ISU PAS program (Phelps, PI). The paper, authored by Domenech Rodríguez, Tarp, Phelps, and Mirly provided basic information about baseline levels of Cultural Competence in PAS: Baseline and Correlates, documenting PAS students and faculty (N = 74) self-assessment of their ethnic identity, health beliefs attitudes, multicultural experiences, ethnocultural empathy, colorblind racial attitudes, and burnout. These variables are considered to be of critical importance in understanding participants’ cultural competence. Our results reflected high levels of health beliefs attitudes and ethnocultural empathy, medium levels of ethnic identity, multicultural desire and experiences, and colorblind racial attitudes. There very fairly low levels of burnout, but some indications of exhaustion. The data suggest that ISU PAS are in an excellent position to engage cultural competence work to build on strengths and also engage growth. 

Right now I am in Pocatello! I am on a 9 month sabbatical this academic year and earning a Graduate Certificate in Spanish for Health Professions. I am enrolled in 12 credits this semester and am studying intermediate Spanish language; Latino culture and history; culture bound syndromes and folk remedies; and specialized medical Spanish terms for pharmacy. This is great stuff! My biomedical science paradigm is being challenged by studying medical anthropology and topics in the humanities. Additionally, my old brain is building new neural connections as I learn a second language. The certificate is available online and if you are interested in it please contact me or check out the website.

Next semester I will continue the intermediate Spanish language classes on Pocatello's campus, take a specialized course in physical exam Spanish terminology, and in April I will go on a 4 week Spanish immersion trip. 

My sabbatical is financially supported by a combination of HRSA grant funds and the local PA Program budget. This is part of the five-year HRSA Primary Care Training Enhancement grant, titled "Pipeline to Diversity" which the PA Program received in 2015. The purpose of the grant is to increase the Latino, Latino-focused individuals, and veterans in the ISU PA Program. There are many components of the grant: Idaho high school outreach dual enrollment medical Spanish program; PA curricular enhancement of cultural knowledge and burnout prevention strategies; $4,000 PA student stipends for first and second year students who are selected to be in the Latino Health Track; faculty language and cultural development stipends; and the funding of a new bilingual financial technician/recruiter position.   

Last year was the first year of the grant. Four first year PA students received $4,000 each. Their commitment is to be enrolled in the graduate certificate program concurrently with their PA course work, and to complete 5 of their 8 clinical rotations in clinics which serve a relatively high proportion of Latinos. Additionally, 14 Snake River High school students completed a a six credit dual enrollment ISU medical Spanish class and then took CLEP exams for Spanish 2201, 2202, 3301, 3302. Thirteen of the 14 students earned a total of 22 college credits as a result of the grant (the 14th student earned 16 credits). The high school students were also funded to attend a medical interpretation boot camp prior to taking their state of Idaho interpreter certificate exam. The grant supported four faculty to travel to the Dominican Republic and 2 faculty to travel to Peru where they completed short term medical service projects; two faculty to travel to Belize for site visits while our students were on four week clinical rotations there; and one faculty to complete a Spanish immersion experience. 

The overall intended outcome of the grant is to increase the access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care for Latino populations by creating a pipeline of PAs dedicated to this purpose. The pipeline is being created by increasing Latino and Latino-focused high schools students' knowledge and familiarity about the PA Profession; the numbers of Latino and Latino-focused individuals who apply to and enroll in the ISU PA Program: and the numbers of Latino and Latino-focused individuals who teach and work in the in the PA program. The second goal of this grant is to increase veteran enrollment in the PA Program and half of the $4,000 stipends are set aside for veteran students who apply to the Latino Health Track.

Please let us know if you are interested in being involved in any component of this grant. We can use help with high school student outreach, veteran outreach, clinical precepting--especially if a significant proportion of your clinic is serving Latino populations. There are also available spots on the short term medical service trips.
  • Class of 2018 PA Program student Wiley Petersen and Dr. Cathleen Tarp were recognized by the JRM Foundation for Humanity as Idaho Hometown Heroes at the September 17th event at the Stephens Performing Arts Center. Read about the outstanding individuals who were honored and check out pictures from the event.
  • Anntara Smith, clinical coordinator and assistant professor for the program, received the ISU Young Alumni Award. Congratulations!
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