Celebrating the Lunar New Year and Honoring Rural PAs!


The Lunar New Year, celebrated in Asia, is based on a lunar cycle, which means that it starts on a different day each year. In 2019, the starting date is February 5th. Unlike western horoscopes that are based on star signs which are assigned to different months, the Chinese Zodiac is based on animals from an old legend and are assigned to the year a person was born. There are twelve animals in all that rotate through a 12-year cycle, each new year being assigned an animal that will represent that year. This year, 2019, is the last animal in the 12-year cycle: The Earth Pig!

According to Chinese Zodiac, the year of the earth pig honors those who work in rural areas and are noble, caring and selfless. What a great time to honor those PAs who have dedicated themselves to working in rural settings!

Below are some PA biographies of these selfless caregivers:

Stephen Beard, PA-C, has spend his career primarily in underserved, rural areas of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Denver, Colorado.

Patricia Dieter, MPA, PA-C, has dedicated her career to focusing on the needs of rural patients and providers in North Carolina.

John Joseph Graykoski, PA-C, has helped set up numerous health programs for underserved populations, including rural health clinics and programs within California. He has also served in leadership roles in state rural health organizations.

Ellen Harder, PA, worked in the medically underserved communities of Yakima, WA and helped to develop remote training sites for PAs in rural Alaska through the MEDEX program.

Prentiss Harrison, PA, in North Carolina, staffed one of the first rural satellite health clinics in the United States.

Les Howard, PA, has strived to create a diverse PA workforce in both rural and urban areas of California.

Michael Huckabee, PhD, PA-C, has worked mainly in rural, family medicine in both Iowa and Nebraska for over 30 years.

Michael Milner, DHSc, PA-C, was the first Chief PA Consultant to the Director of the Indian Health Service and advocated for the increased use of PAs to improve the health of Native Americans in rural, underserved tribal clinics across the United States.

Ron Nelson, PA, was a staunch advocate for the Rural Health Clinics of Michigan and founded the Michigan Association of Rural Health Clinics. He also developed Michigan’s first Mobile Rural Health Clinic.

Joyce Nichols, PA-C, not only the first woman PA, but also the first PA to establish a rural satellite health clinic in North Carolina.

Benjamin Olmedo, MMSc, PA-C, after being commissioned in the USPHS, worked in rural Alaska with the Indian Health Service and later in California, still with the IHS.

Michael Quirk, PA-C, MsBA, DFAAPA, has spent his PA career working in rural health in Arizona and then the Florida Keys.

Amiel Redfish, PA-C, is a graduate for the Indian Health Service PA Studies program in South Dakota. After graduation he remained working with the USPHS Indian Health Service.

Photos, in order of appearance, are of Prentiss Harrison and Benjamin Olmedo and are property of the PA History Society. Images of the Lunar New Year animal are public domain.

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