What was my biggest obstacle?
My biggest obstacle was lack of mentorship as a high school and college student.
How do I make a difference?
I believe there is hope for healthier American Indian and Alaska Native communities.I strive to serve as a resource for American Indian and Alaska Native communities and families. In doing so, I find they have many more gifts to share with me.My life has also been enriched by serving as a mentor to American Indian and Alaska Native youth pursuing careers in medicine and other health-related professions.
My career and heritage have allowed me to see the health care disparities faced by American Indian and Alaska Native communities firsthand. I work to build collaborations and partnerships with other government health care agencies, state and county public health departments, advocacy organizations, academic institutions, medical professional societies, tribes and communities to help reduce those disparities. Only by working together can we achieve positive health outcomes for the communities all of us serve.
Who was my mentor?
Joseph Ferretti, Ph.D., was my mentor during medical school. He was a basic science professor who coordinated a health careers opportunity summer workshop for minority students and a program called Headlands for American Indian/Alaska Native high school graduates. Dorothy J. Meyer, C.N.M., M.P.H., a retired Indian Health Service midwife and former maternal child health consultant for the Phoenix Area IHS, has mentored me extensively in my career with HIS. I have also had the support of my parents, husband, and many professional colleagues throughout my career.
How has my career evolved over time?
My perspective has changed from the patient in the room with me to the community. I started my career as a full-time clinician. I wanted to help meet the need for primary care clinicians at Indian health care sites and provide culturally sensitive care directly. However, within my first year in the IHS, I became a part-time administrator for the medical staff and other clinical departments at an ambulatory facility. This eventually led to an opportunity to work with the Pima Indians of the Gila River Indian Community in southern Arizona as the clinical director and sole pediatrician of their small rural hospital. There I became interested in the growing public health concern of type 2 diabetes in American Indian youth. I also had my first experience with clinical research in an American Indian Community. Since then, I have worked in a regional administrative office in the IHS as both a medical administrator and diabetes consultant. I now hold a position in the IHS National Diabetes Program.