New rural health fellowship program brings education and experience to physicians

February 3, 2017




ANTHC partners with a variety of educational programs to bring the best professionals into our Tribal health system. In 2016, ANTHC and our Tribal health partners welcomed two physicians from the University of Washington Global and Rural Health Fellowship, a new program designed to provide clinical training and education in traditionally underserved health care systems. ANTHC’s partnership for this new program with the University of Washington (UW) began in 2015. Recognizing that physicians in internal medicine or emergency medicine rarely have experience with rural or smaller hospital locations, and the health care inequalities of the people these health systems typically serve, the UW Global and Rural Health Fellowship partnered with Tribal health systems in Alaska and South Dakota for one year of the two-year program to provide direct clinical care in internal medicine and emergency medicine. The fellows are part of the UW practice and continue their program in an international location for the second year of the fellowship. “Partnering with ANTHC provides a unique educational opportunity for fellows to develop cultural competency by living among Alaska Native people for whom they provide clinical care. We hope our fellows will be inspired to live and work in Alaska and pursue global health careers long term,” said Dr. Sachita Shah of the UW Global and Rural Fellowship program. Since July, ANTHC has hosted two post-residency fellows from the program. Dr. Jodie Totten has worked clinical rotations in the Emergency Departments at ANMC and Norton Sound Health Corporation in Nome and surrounding villages of Koyuk, Savoonga and Unalakleet, and is planned for work with Arctic Slope Native Association. She is originally from Sitka and completed her medical residency at the University of Washington. Dr. Ai-Ling Lin has worked in Internal Medicine at ANMC and Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel and the surrounding area. She is from Hawaii and Taiwan, and completed her residency in California. In addition to their clinical care experience in our Tribal health system, the fellows also have the opportunity to participate in health systems strengthening projects to contribute to the communities in which they are providing care. Dr. Lin is taking the opportunity to learn more about the contributions of the Community Health Aide Program and Dr. Totten is sharing her emergency medicine experience with our Tribal health partners. “I have been continuously impressed by the quality of care provided in rural locations, especially by the community health aides,” said Dr. Totten. “I feel very honored to have the opportunity to work with ANTHC and the Tribal health system, where preservation and appreciation of culture is held in such high value and have already learned a lot from my patients and their communities.” At ANTHC, Dr. Patti Paris, Dr. Esther Lee and Dr. Bob Onders have helped facilitate the fellows’ work at ANMC and Tribal health partner locations, in addition to their supervising physician at UW. Future plans for the fellowship program include increasing the number of participating physicians in Alaska; in July, the program will expand to two Internal Medicine fellows and one Emergency Department fellow with the possibility of expanding into other medical specialties and advanced nurse practitioners. We are pleased to see the first-year success of this program and look forward to continuing the partnership that will invite physicians to see firsthand the quality work we are doing in pursuit of our vision that Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world. For more information about the fellowship, visit http://em.uw.edu/education/global-emergency-medicine-and-rural-health-fellowship or http://globalhealth.washington.edu/education-training/residents-fellows/global-and-rural-health-fellowship.

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