Conference to Address Role of PAs in Solving Rural Health Care Challenges

Sept. 11-12 conference in Omaha sponsored by 6 regional PA programs

Article ID: 622090

Released: 18-Aug-2014 9:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC)

  • Michael Huckabee, Ph.D.

Newswise — A national conference hosted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center on Sept. 11-12 will explore the important role of physician assistants in the changing world of health care.

The conference, “Advancing Rural Primary Care,” will be held at the Hilton Omaha Hotel. In addition to UNMC, five regional PA education programs are co-sponsoring the conference: Des Moines University, Union College (Lincoln, Neb.), University of Iowa, University of South Dakota and Wichita State University.

The conference will feature a wide array of speakers including:

• Tom Morris, associate administrator for rural health policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; • Robert Wergin, M.D., family physician, Milford, Neb., and president-elect, American Academy of Family Physicians;• Alan Morgan, CEO, National Rural Health Association; • Andrew Morris-Singer, M.D., president and founder, Primary Care Progress; and• Robert McNellis, senior advisor for primary care, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Among the topics covered will be:• Unique challenges of rural primary care;• Quality improvement strategies in rural health care delivery;• The maximal utilization of PAs in team-based care;• Building and sustaining rural primary care using PAs; and• A federal perspective on key issues facing rural PAs.

“The quickly evolving health care landscape has created a time of change and challenges for the entire medical profession,” said Michael Huckabee, Ph.D., director of UNMC’s PA Education division. “One of the issues health care leaders are working to address is access to primary care within rural areas, where typically the homeless, the underinsured, and individuals with chronic health care conditions are found at a higher proportion than in urban areas.”

Dr. Huckabee said the increased need for health care is expected to be “a burden to small communities that may not have the infrastructure and workforce to provide those expected services.”

Dr. Huckabee said the idea for the conference developed “organically” while exploring ways to help shape the coming health care reform.

The conference is unique in that it is tailored specifically for those who hire and use PAs. It is geared toward administrators, health care leaders, academicians, policy makers, physicians, and PAs.

Dr. Huckabee noted that PAs are a good fit for rural health practices – which often emphasize patient relationships – because of the team-based care model that is the foundation of PA practice.

“PAs are highly respected and their care touches many individuals within a rural community,” Dr. Huckabee said. “They often are found in community leadership positions, such as on school boards, local health care organizations, and involved in community-wide activities.”

The conference was made possible by a nearly $1 million grant UNMC received in 2012 from the Health Resources and Services Administration. UNMC was one of only 12 universities to receive the PA Training in Primary Care grant, which will allow UNMC to host a second national conference on rural primary care in 2016.

Registration fee is $279, and the deadline to register is Aug. 27. For more information on the conference, go to

Continuing education credit will be available for PAs, physicians and other health professionals through the UNMC Center for Continuing Education.

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at and follow us on social media.


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