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Idaho State University faculty among Idaho’s Rural Health Heroes

December 8, 2022

ISU faculty received three of 16 Idaho Rural Health Hero Awards at the Idaho Rural Health Association Annual Meeting and Awards Reception on Nov. 17. The awards are given on National Rural Health Day in Idaho to recognize rural health educators, community advocates, healthcare providers and program administrators who demonstrate outstanding service and dedication to rural communities. 

The ISU faculty receiving the awards are Diana Schow, PhD, Idaho AHEC Program Office, Pocatello, Neil Ragan, MD – Health West Community Health Center, Pocatello and Trevor Ward, adjunct professor for Radiographic Science. Nominations described the many contributions of this year’s awardees as advocates, educators, collaborators, and innovators.

Schow coordinated a successful multi-site grant application to fund an Idaho Area Health Education Center Program Office that sponsors three regional AHEC Centers. Idaho was one of two states that did not have an AHEC Program Office, and this development is essential to finding solutions to the healthcare workforce shortages in Idaho.

Ragan is a board-certified family physician with over 45 years of experience in medicine. He currently serves as medical director at the Health West ISU Pocatello Family Medicine Residency clinic, where he sees patients and teaches in the residency program. He has a special interest in underserved populations, including ensuring comprehensive and sensitive care for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people. In addition to his teaching role at the residency, Ragan is also a regular participant at ECHO Idaho, a free continuing education platform for Idaho health care professionals. He frequently volunteers to present patient cases to help other rural health care professionals learn from experiences in his clinic and practice. Insightful, inquisitive and caring, he demonstrates exemplary concern for his patients and staff.

Schow also developed a graduate-level Rural Health Certificate at Idaho State University. The program is interdisciplinary and educates students on the various aspects of rural life. Students remark how much they enjoy her courses and feel inspired by her approach to teaching. For example, she included applied research methods during the pandemic to expose students to aspects of rural health care, such as vaccine hesitancy in rural Spanish-speaking communities in Idaho.

Ward works as the primary MRI technologist for the community of Bear Lake County. An adjunct member of faculty in the ISU Radiographic Sciences program, he also serves as a preceptor for students of radiographic science in the rural town of Montpelier, Idaho.

Prior to providing services at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital, Ward worked in other rural critical access hospitals in Southeast Idaho. A self-described “jack-of-all-trades,” Ward's skill set includes not only conducting x-rays, but specialty diagnostic modalities such as CT and MRI. Trevor is an active team member for Idaho Condor, a medical mission that provides medical, dental, audiology, surgical services and ultrasound diagnostic care in Peru.

“We continue to be impressed with our faculty in the health professions here at ISU,” said Rex Force, vice president for health sciences and senior vice provost. “Their level of commitment to serve our students is unmatched and their outreach to the communities they serve shines a light on the health care needs in much of our rural state. It is awards like the Idaho Rural Health Heroes that allow them to be honored for their incredible work, and we are so grateful to have such meaningful relationships with organizations like the Idaho Rural Health Association.“


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