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New Scholar Cohort Enters Area Health Education Center

January 25, 2021

The Southeast Idaho Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is excited to announce 15 new student scholars who will continue on their path to join the next generation of highly skilled health care providers across Idaho.

AHEC was established to recruit, train, and retain health professionals to work in rural and underserved communities.

“This year, we received 46 applications for the 15 scholar slots,” said Rylee O’Neill, Director of the Southeast Idaho AHEC. “This is a highly competitive process, and chosen scholars are all outstanding students.”

Scholars in the 2020-2022 program are as follows: Nursing - Alexander Torres and Kasey Ward; Physical Therapy Assistant - Mark Tobias and Jade Spanton; Athletic Training and Physical Therapy - Dustyn Walton; Dental Hygiene - Veronica Smith; Occupational Therapy Assistant - Cody Thomas; Pharmacy - Walter Mink and JaDonna Dorsey; Social Work - Dakota Morgan; Psychology - Jennifer Hambleton, Diane Keister and Rhett Mullins; Speech-Language Pathology - Sierra Clayson; and Radiographic Sciences - Vallie Harris.

Each year they attend a didactic class covering interprofessional practice, social determinants of health, adverse childhood events, behavioral health integration, practice transformation, and cultural humility. Scholars also complete 40 hours of clinical, experiential, or community service. These hours must include working with health professionals outside of their discipline and be done in a rural or underserved community. In the past, students have volunteered at the Bear Lake Memorial, Southeast Idaho Public Health, and Bengal Pharmacy.

The scholars will participate in the two-year program in the areas of study they’re focused on, but the unique experience gives particular focus to working with, learning with and learning from students and professionals from other health disciplines.

The first group of Southeast Idaho AHEC scholars just graduated in 2020.

“So far, students have taken jobs at Caribou Memorial Hospital in Soda Springs, Idaho, Gateway Transitional Care Center, a local skilled nursing facility in Pocatello, and Heritage Hospice, serving southeastern Idaho, Idaho,” said Rylee O’Neill, Director of the Southeast Idaho AHEC.