Need: New Mexico's southwestern counties of Hidalgo, Catron, Luna, and Grant have experienced chronic shortages of primary care providers. New Mexico has the oldest physician population in the country.
Intervention: A comprehensive workforce pipeline program, including programming for middle and high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, primary care program students, and medical and dental residents.
Results: The program reaches over 1,000 school-aged students throughout the service areas and provides support for students and medical residents in a variety of healthcare-related programs for rural rotation experiences. FORWARD NM received its designation as an Area Health Education Center (AHEC) in 2012.
New Mexico's Hidalgo, Luna, Catron and Grant counties,
located in the southwest corner of the state, have
experienced ongoing and severe shortages of primary care
providers. The average age of the state's physician
workforce is 53, and one-third of the state's physicians
are over 60 years of age. The number of practitioners
retiring soon far exceeds the number of new graduates
ready to take their places. To help improve and ensure
access to primary care in this rural area, the Center for Health Innovation
NM to lead a range of activities under the
"Grow-Your-Own" model of care through its
Pathways to Health Careers pipeline.
The following organizations partner with FORWARD NM:
Several other universities and colleges that prepare
individuals for a career in the healthcare sector on a
national and international level
All regional school districts
Community healthcare providers
Services provided by the FORWARD NM program cover the
entire healthcare workforce pipeline and help recruit and
retain rural providers:
Dream Makers Health Career Clubs – Educates
students on different healthcare professions through
field trips, hands-on participation, and interaction with
professionals. The program is sponsored by the Office for
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of New
Team Academy for Health Sciences (TAHS) – A
3-week summer academy for high schoolers. It provides healthcare career and college
exploration, classes that qualify for college credit, and
tours of regional health centers.
Health Career Manual – A free, downloadable
guide to help students discover what health career paths
might suit their talents and how to achieve that future.
College Application & Scholarship Support –
Program staff meet with students interested in a
healthcare career to formulate a plan to fulfill their
goals. Areas include application completion, scholarships
and loans, writing support, and mock interviews.
Advocacy – Program staff work to support state
and federal policies aimed at obtaining an adequate rural
primary care access and workforce. The program introduces
students interested in medicine to the University
of New Mexico Combined BA/MD program for a
medical-focused higher education path. Supports rural
training experiences during medical, dental, and
behavioral school and residency programs.
FORWARD NM has accomplished the following:
Worked with middle and high school students
throughout the four counties, reaching more than 1,000
students in FY21
Hosted more than 5,000 rural rotation experiences
since its start in 2012 for medical, dental, and
behavioral health students and residents of more than 25
disciplines in healthcare at more than 15 different
colleges and universities
In 2012, FORWARD NM received accreditation as an Area
Health Education Center (AHEC)
The article One
Month Rural, published in The Differential,
was written by University of Arizona Second Year Medical
Student Michelle Blumenschine. The article explains her
experience during a clinical rural rotation at Hidalgo
Medical Services, coordinated by FORWARD NM, in 2015.
In recent years, AHEC funding has been stable and adequate to support FORWARD NM's pipeline programs and activities. The center has faced the challenge of reaching students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
FORWARD NM Pathways to Health Careers and its components
are replicable and adaptable to similar environments and
communities. FORWARD NM developed a Toolkit that can
assist in adapting parts or the entire model as
applicable and necessary in other environments and
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.