Physician assistant training for Native Alaskan community health aides: the MEDEX Northwest experience

  • Abstract

    BACKGROUND-From 1980 through 1990, 16 Native Alaskan Community Health Aides and 21 non-Native Alaskans began physician assistant training at MEDEX Northwest at the University of Washington. This study was done to assess the outcome of training Native Alaskan health workers as physician assistants, specifically whether Native Alaskan graduates are working in settings that serve Alaska Natives. METHODS-The backgrounds, educational experiences and deployment locations of Native and non-Native Alaskans accepted for training were compared using MEDEX Northwest student records. The 1991 graduate survey was used to compare differences in practice setting, specialty and salary between Native and non-Native graduates working in Alaska in 1991. RESULTS-All of the non-Natives and 81% of the Natives completed the program. Of those completing the program, 100% of the Natives returned to Alaska where 91% found work as primary care physician assistants in clinics serving predominantly Native communities. By comparison 78% of the non-Native graduates returned to Alaska to work as physician assistants, 60% of them in primary care and 15% of them in predominantly Native communities. There were no significant differences in salary or benefits between Native and non-Native graduates. CONCLUSIONS-Physician assistant training for entry level health workers is a viable strategy for increasing the number of under-represented minorities in the health professions. The Native graduates of MEDEX Northwest are returning to communities where they serve Native people both as health care providers and as professional role models.

  • Authors:

    Hummel J, Cortte R, Ballweg R, Larson E

  • Journal/Publisher:

    Alaska Med

  • Edition:

    Oct 1994. 36(4):183-188

  • Link to Article

    Access the article here: Alaska Med

  • Citation:

    Hummel J, Cortte R, Ballweg R, Larson E. Physician Assistant Training For Native Alaskan Community Health Aides: The MEDEX Northwest Experience. Alaska Med. Oct 1994 36(4):183-188

  • Related Studies:

    MEDEX Northwest Physician Assistant Study