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iConnect News


Primary Care Transformation Executive Fellowship announces first cohort of fellows

April 4, 2019
Posted In: Arizona Campus, Awards, Community Health Centers, Faculty & Staff Headlines, Physician Assistant, SOMA, Uncategorized

Last year, A.T. Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) received a $1,999,650 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support an innovative primary care fellowship for physicians and physician assistants. The program, led by Joy H. Lewis, DO, PhD, FACP, professor and chair of ATSU-SOMA’s public health department, will strengthen the healthcare workforce in underserved communities nationwide. Ebony Whisenant, MD, serves as fellowship program director, and Malissa Ellsworth is the post-award project manager.

The first cohort of the Primary Care Transformation Executive (PCTE) Fellowship has been announced. It includes physicians and physician assistants who will lead healthcare transformation in their roles at community health centers across the country. We’d like to introduce you to the fellows who are pioneering this innovative initiative to transform our nation’s healthcare system.

Hugo Bravo, PA works as a primary care physician assistant at Community Health Centers of the Central Coast in Santa Maria, California.

PCTE Fellowship project: Utilizing a team-based approach for improving colorectal cancer screening in underserved populations

Q: What do you enjoy about working at a community health center?

A: I enjoy the mission of serving and providing affordable and high-quality care to our community, in particular to the underserved and migrant farm worker population.

Q: How do you see the fellowship impacting the primary care workforce and community health?

A: I believe the fellowship is innovative in terms of utilizing web-based tools such as the Harvard clinical curriculum, web-based monthly meetings, and evidence-based literature which focuses on developing leadership skills. This will enable me to grow as a leader and provide me with the tools to implement community-oriented programs and strategies aimed at improving health outcomes.

Nicole Burton, MD is a pediatrician at Near North Health Services Corporation in Chicago.

PCTE Fellowship project: Increased screen time and behavior problems in school-aged children: Is there an association?

Q: What do you enjoy about working at a community health center?

A: I have always wanted to be a pediatrician, and I have always known that my mission as a physician was to work and serve in the communities that are most in need. Since completing my residency training in 2008, I have only worked in federally qualified health centers throughout Chicago. I firmly believe that healthcare is a right, and quality healthcare should not be contingent on a person’s ability to pay. I love being a pediatrician, and I love my patients.

Q: How do you see the fellowship impacting the primary care workforce and community health?

A: The role of community health centers is vital to healthcare delivery and access to vulnerable populations. While the mission and purpose are well defined, the execution of the mission can be challenging for various reasons, such as funding, provider shortages, housing instability, transportation limitations, and financial restraints. When reviewing the mission of the fellowship, I immediately saw the opportunity to explore these challenges and gain knowledge and tools to address these challenges, with the ultimate goal of gaining leadership skills to be in positions to find and implement solutions to these challenges.

Maria Carriedo-Ceniceros, MD is vice president and chief medical officer at San Ysidro Health in southern California.

PCTE Fellowship project: Strategies for diabetic treatment management

Q: What do you enjoy about working at a community health center?

A:  Working at a community health center provides the opportunity to utilize your medical knowledge while addressing the social and economic needs of your patients. Community health centers have known for years that in order to truly meet the needs of our patient population, we must address the social determinants of health. Community health centers have also provided comprehensive services at one site, including medical, dental, and behavioral health. Having grown up in the community that I currently serve allows me to utilize not only my medical knowledge, but my personal life experiences to understand the needs and barriers of our patient population. Equally rewarding is the opportunity to surround myself with mission-driven, compassionate, and highly trained colleagues. The work is hard, but highly rewarding. In addition, working at a community health center allows me to always put the patient first, and isn’t that why we go into healthcare?

Q: What inspired you to pursue the fellowship?

A: As a leader within my organization, I owe it to my colleagues to continue to develop the skill set needed to lead and champion our providers and trainees in order to best serve our community. Additional training in development of leadership and transformation skills will allow me to model the healthcare professional of the future and disseminate those skills to the mission-driven providers in our organization. As a site for students and residents, we have an obligation to train culturally sensitive primary care providers who address the social determinants of health in their delivery of high quality care. In addition, retention of our providers by providing an environment where they can thrive is a key goal of our strategic plan.  The skills I can obtain through the PCTE program will allow us to develop and retain a culturally sensitive workforce that strives for continued improvement on clinical outcomes for our underserved communities by providing strong teachers and role models.

Ellaheh Ebrahim, MD is chief medical officer at North Central Texas Community Healthcare Center in Wichita Falls, Texas.

PCTE Fellowship project: Optimizing health center opioid prescribing and monitoring practices

Q: What do you enjoy about working at a community health center?

A: My great ambition is to better the health of my patients and inspire lifelong changes which will ensure good health. I have found that the mission of community health centers is aligned with my passion to help my patients be able to embrace healthier lifestyles and also to help patients from underserved communities better their lives.

Q: What inspired you to pursue the fellowship?

A: In order for me to successfully keep up with our dramatically changing world and to be a leading figure both at my job and in my community, I have had to refine the arts of learning and teaching. I continue to push myself every day to improve in these two areas. In this sense, learning and teaching have become essential to who I am as a person, and I could not imagine my life without either of them. Learning, of course, is the foundation that our lives are built upon. Thus, teaching can be seen as the most important institution throughout the entire world. To meet the needs of the 21st century healthcare system, medical teams must be guided by the conviction that medicine, at its core, is about simultaneously improving individual lives while reducing costs, transforming fragmented social and economic structures, and, in turn, achieving lasting social change by improving both patient and population experiences.

Through becoming a fellow, I have been better taught how to effectively reach out to and broaden the perspectives of so many intelligent young students. This fellowship has allowed me to better educate both myself and my students in regards to what it truly means to be a leader, especially in the field of medicine. It has helped me to realize the most efficient plans and tools that we can employ to achieve our ultimate goal of improving our patients’ health, both short-term and long-term.

Rebecca Kenderes, PA is a physician assistant at the Wright Center for Community Health, practicing in the Children’s Service Center, a behavioral health organization for children and adolescents in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

PCTE Fellowship project: Leveraging pediatric clinic visits to improve access to primary care in adult family members/caregivers

Q: What do you enjoy about working for a community health center?

A: My favorite thing would have to be the patients and community that I serve. I enjoy going to work each day knowing that we’ve provided services that may not have been previously available. Many of these patients and families have not had a primary care physician and have been relying on urgent cares and emergency departments. It’s nice to be able to develop a meaningful rapport with these families and a mutual trust and respect.

Q: What inspired you to pursue the fellowship?

A: I truly believe that primary care is the future of healthcare. The immense need to switch from a reactive system to a proactive system is extremely evident in our country and our specific communities. By transforming how we provide primary care, we can improve health outcomes for patients and communities over time. The goals of the fellowship align perfectly with the goals of my community health center, as well as my personal goals as a provider.

Sonia Reidy, MD is a pediatrician at El Rio Community Health Center in Tucson, Arizona.

PCTE Fellowship project: El Rio’s Healthy Kids Move program

Q: What do you enjoy about working for a community health center?

A: I work in the neighborhood that I grew up in. am giving back to the community that raised me. What I love best about working at El Rio Community Health Center is the connection I have with my patients and their families. What makes me the happiest is watching my patients and families grow. Being someone’s doctor is a special privilege that I am thankful for every day.

Q: How do you see the fellowship impacting the primary care workforce and community health?

A: The PCTE fellowship program is a new fellowship that focuses on community-oriented primary care. This is a great forum to work with other motivated and dynamic leaders in medicine from across the country to strengthen primary care. To really impact patient health, we have to step out of the exam rooms, work with community partners to advocate and create change around the social determinants of health.

2 responses to “Primary Care Transformation Executive Fellowship announces first cohort of fellows”

  1. Berneice Mills-Thomas says:

    Great article and work from all the fellows, thank you! I would like to acknowledge Near North’s very own Pediatrician who participated as a fellow in the Primary care Transformation Executive Fellowship program and the great work done on her project “Increased Screen time and behavior problems in school-aged children: is there an association?

  2. berneice mills-thomas says:

    Nicole Burton, MD

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