New Health Push in Central Wisconsin

Doctor and young girlMADISON – In another step towards strengthening rural and underserved health care in Wisconsin, the Physician Assistant Program of the University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine will create a Community Practice Advisory Council (CPAC) that will forge a link between community practitioners and the university's clinical resources.

The Department of Family Medicine and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health are making a concerted effort to educate more health professions students who want to practice primary care in rural areas. The shortage of primary care physicians and physician assistants in rural areas of the state is a long-standing problem and poses a threat to health care access for many people in Wisconsin.

"Setting up this new group will help us make sure we are talking regularly with community physicians and physician assistants, as well as other stakeholders, who can help us recruit promising students and then give them the skills they need to effectively take care of rural patients," said Virginia Snyder, PhD, PA-C, director of the Physician Assistant program at UW. "We also hope the committee will help us identify places where these students can work closely with a preceptor, as we know this is a major consideration for graduates when they are looking at potential clinical practice opportunities in rural communities and for employers when they are looking to employ physician assistants."

The Physician Assistant program received approval to create the first state site for the council from the board of directors of the Cornerstone Project, an organization formed to provide resources in health, wellness and fitness to enhance the quality of life in several central Wisconsin communities. The council will be made up of representatives from the communities of Berlin, Green Lake, Markesan, Princeton, Ripon, Wautoma and Wild Rose.

The community partners will meet annually with PA program representatives to evaluate recruitment, to develop a rural health curriculum and to establish training experiences in rural and underserved communities. This particular effort is funded by a HRSA (Health and Human Resources) Title VII Training Grant: Physician Assistant Training in Primary Care. This federal program supports initiatives for placing graduates in practice settings to serve residents of underserved communities and to prepare practitioners to care for underserved populations.

"This is history-making for seven communities and four counties coming together with education, medical, wellness and fitness all as elements of the model for the programs and the facility," said Cornerstone CEO and President Patricia Lenius. "The path is being cut and the journey continues."

The Cornerstone Project is a 501 ©3 non-profit formed to provide proactive resources in health, wellness and fitness to enhance the quality of life in Berlin, Green Lake, Markesan, Princeton, Ripon, Wild Rose, Wautoma and surrounding communities. The Project is a collaborative effort with community residents, families and organizations, including hospitals, medical clinics, assisted-living facilities, schools, universities, corporations and recreation departments.


Date Published: 05/08/2009

News tag(s):  family medicine

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