Welcome to Arizona Ruralways, my new blog. I thought I would introduce myself and the purpose of this blog to you and why I decided to start this blog.
So, first of all, who am I? I’m Neil MacKinnon, the Director of the Center for Rural Health (formerly the Rural Health Office) housed here at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. I have only been in this position for a few weeks now, having come from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, where I was a professor at the College of Pharmacy and Faculty of Medicine. I have a health professional background as a pharmacist who has practiced in both the hospital and community settings and a researcher background with graduate degrees in health services research from Wisconsin and Florida.
I was born and raised in small town Nova Scotia, Canada and for the past seven years, lived in a community of about 7000 people where we had a house on over an acre of land, on a lake, with our own dock and canoe, surrounded by variety of wildlife, from Canadian geese to beavers to porcupines. While I can’t claim to have had a research or clinical program that focused solely on rural health issues, looking back now there was a rural aspect to most of my work over the past decade due to the rural nature of Atlantic Canada. The nearest large city to where I lived was a 12 hour drive away – Boston, Mass!
My wife is an Arizona native and I was married and honeymooned here and have been to the state countless times over the years so it was already a second home to me even before moving here in August. I realize I will have a lot of learn about rural Arizona but hopefully I can bring in a fresh perspective from another rural area, Atlantic Canada. Also, it has already struck me since arriving that many of the issues related to rural health – access to care, sustainability, health professional workforce shortages - are similar in most rural areas.
So why am I writing this blog? There are several reasons. First, I enjoy the format of blogs and wrote a blog for health professionals in Canada called Double Doctoring with a small town family physician, Dr. Rhonda Church. We wrote on a wide variety of topics and I enjoyed that experience very much. Secondly, I want to have a place where current issues relevant to rural Arizona residents and healthcare stakeholders are discussed. I hope this blog becomes interactive, where you, the reader, feel comfortable posting comments or reacting to what I have written. Third, I will be doing quite a bit of travel across the state in my position as the Director of the Center for Rural Health and I wanted to share some of the stories and pictures from my travels. On my first rural Arizona roadtrip recently, I met so many interesting people and heard lots of great success stories about healthcare in rural Arizona. Sure, there are some big challenges facing those in rural communities, but I will strive to keep a positive tone in this blog as there is a lot of good stuff occurring as well.
Finally, one of the toughest decisions for a blog is what to call it so I have admittedly used a play on words of the longstanding and noteworthy publication, Arizona Highways. I subscribe to that magazine and enjoy the stories and pictures of it so hopefully this will become known as the healthcare version of that magazine.
So, I hope you enjoy this blog and that you make it a regular part of your routine to come back here on a regular basis and check us out!