2013 Arizona Rural Health Conference: An Interprofessional Exercise

This blog was originally posted on the Interprofessional & Education Practice Blog on Oct 2nd, 2013

By Cameron Price on Oct 2, 2013

Poster session at the 2013 Arizona Rural Health Conference

Graduate students always remember the first conference that they participate in. For me, this conference was The Arizona Rural Health Conference (AZRHC) held in Prescott, AZ on August 20-21, 2013.

The AZRHC turned 40 this year, marking its entry into its fifth decade as a resource for Rural Health professionals throughout the state of Arizona. The conference brought a large cadre of health workers, from dozens of organizations, institutions of higher learning, and community health groups.

Organized by the University of Arizona’s Center for Rural Health, this conference consisted of educators, state and federal health authorities, physicians, university faculty, and hospital administrators. This was my first exposure to poster sessions, interprofessional networking, and statewide activity updates.

Talking About the ACA and a Healthy Arizona

With such a diverse crowd of people, speakers like Dr. Mary Wakefield from the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), and representatives from the State of Arizona; you might assume that the issues of discussion would be different and unique, or that each session would vary widely from the one before. The same issues, though, were on everyone’s minds.

With the approaching deadline of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and an increasing need for innovation with regard to how our state handles the changes in health care law, many of the conversations were revolving around a few key areas. The general questions were:

  • How do we utilize health care reform in the State of Arizona in a way that best helps those who will be eligible for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS)?
  • How do we best navigate those who will be newly eligible for insurance under the ACA?
  • What can we do better to serve our communities and patients under the new guidelines?

An Impactful Two Days

As a Masters in Public Health student at the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, it was incredible to see such cross pollination, desire for new working relationships and ideas, and a forward thinking group of individuals.

After presenting my poster, on IPEP Fall Prevention activities at the UA, I took time to listen to breakout sessions on new and exciting activities, and talked with people pioneering programs in rural Arizona. I got an update on the Arizona Area Health Education Centers, overheard new preventative medicine ideas from faculty in the UA Department of Emergency Medicine, and learned about new grant opportunities for patient navigators in Arizona.

Collaborating In New Ways

Right now, the ACA is being implemented across the county. What we need to do now, as health professionals in the State of Arizona, is to collaborate in new ways to facilitate the changes that come with it.

We have the ability to recruit the eligible uninsured and to create new and exciting means of providing primary care or reducing rates of hospitalization through community based health education and practice.

As the AZRHC closed, the true hope began for new and exciting health programs in Arizona.

An Interprofessional Exercise

The conference, with so many health workers from such diverse backgrounds, was – in itself – an interprofessional exercise. Working with IPEP at the UA facilitated my involvement with the conference, and allowed me to get a truly unique interprofessional education at the conference this past August.

Special thanks to: Rebecca Ruiz, for her work in organizing the conference; Doctors Schloss, Schachter, Derksen, and Galper for their IPEP and rural activities; and especially Joe West, MD, Moira Alexander, Olga Boystova, Myles Stone, Gia Leonetti, Leila Kissick, and David Trinidad.

About the Author

Cameron A Price

Cameron A. Price is a second year Masters of Public Health student at the University of Arizona, concentrating on Global Maternal and Child Health. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Communications at Northern Arizona University in 2009. He subsequently served for three years as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kingdom of Swaziland, in Sub-Saharan Africa, working with Pediatric HIV and psychosocial support programs. Cameron is a Tucson, AZ native and a current Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellow. 

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