Silver City, NM – Officials representing Hidalgo Medical Services (HMS) and the University of New Mexico visited the Western New Mexico University campus on Wednesday to discuss potential partnership opportunities for the three organizations.
A draft Memorandum of Understanding was circulated, detailing the potential language describing future collaborative efforts by both universities and HMS, a non-profit health care and community development organization. Officials discussed healthcare related disciplines offered by WNMU and UNM as well as placement opportunities through HMS and other community agencies.
President Shepard opened the meeting with remarks about the nation’s current healthcare trajectory.
“Our nation is headed towards a healthcare crisis,” said Shepard. “Rural health has strong challenges and we have to figure out where we will be in 10 years.”
Leaders from each group exchanged several ideas on how to address serving rural area healthcare needs, increasing nursing faculty development and developing resources not currently offered in the Southwest New Mexico region.
The discussion was made with the understanding that much of what is already offered to rural residents rests on the policies and fiscal generosity of the state and federal governments.
“Whatever policies we have at the state level, impact our ability to make changes in rural area areas,” said Charlie Alfero, HMS Executive Director. “We need to create our own opportunity for resources and ask the federal government to fund these created projects.”
Already, the three groups have partnered successfully on several projects including grant writing and matriculation agreements for students in healthcare related fields.
This summer, the WNMU Natural Sciences Department is hosting a six-week summer camp for junior and senior college students and graduate students from mid-June through mid-July. Program participants receive a $1500 stipend and over 50 hours of in-class test prep instruction covering the four sections of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
The summer program, which includes a tour of the UNM Health Science Center, is sponsored by the UNM School of Medicine and HMS.
Dr. Arthur Kaufman, Vice Chancellor for Community Health at UNM, expressed his desire to grow residency opportunities for healthcare students in rural areas.
“About 70 to 80% of residency graduates practice within 100 miles of their residency,” explained Kaufman.
The draft agreement proposes greater academic affiliations by WNMU and UNM, and greater research collaboration by the three parties.
“The fact that universities are involved with community health workers is historic,” said Kaufman.
Representatives from each organization will meet in a couple of weeks to continue the development of the collaborative agreement.