Tuesday, June 7, 2011

OHS grad returns for rotation

Stacy Ray, Physician Assistant student and OHS graduate, is doing her rural ER rotation at Clearwater Valley Hospital.

Although an author once said you can never go home again, sometimes you can if it’s a rural rotation on your way to becoming a Physician Assistant. Stacy Ray, 2001 Orofino High School graduate, is back in Orofino at Clearwater Valley Hospital for a five week ER rotation as part of her two year program to earn a Masters of Physician Assistant Studies through Idaho State University.

After receiving a Bachelor’s degree from Boise State University in Health Services, Ray worked for four years in both a chiropractor’s office and at Orthopedic Associates in Boise. “I applied for acceptance into the PA program because I wanted to be involved in all aspects of patient care. Physician Assistants have a lot of autonomy with decision making capabilities which attracted me to the position,” said Ray. “I applied through the Idaho SEARCH program for a scholarship to help cover travel expenses and costs of doing a community project while I’m here. They help place medical and dental students in rural areas with the hope they will stay in Idaho to practice.”

Prior to her August graduation Ray will complete eight rotations during her second year of schooling. Her psychology rotation was at State Hospital North in Orofino. She has also completed OB/GYN, pediatric, inpatient cardiology and orthopedic rotations. Her first year was spent in the classroom studying anatomy and physiology, infectious diseases, the cardio-pulmonary system and all other body systems.

“There are 60 students in the ISU program; half are based in Pocatello and half in the Boise area. Our classes were shared through teleconferencing depending on where the faculty was based,” said Ray, who plans on settling in the Treasure Valley after graduation. “My classmates and I must also take a five hour 300 question exam to test our clinical knowledge before I am certified as a Physician Assistant. We will need to take a rigorous exam every six years to retain our certification.”

Clearwater Valley Hospital employs three Physician Assistants: Hal Joseph, who sees urgent care and diabetic patients in the Orofino clinic and also provides diabetic counseling in the Kooskia Clinic once per month; John Beeh, who primarily works in the Pioneer Medical Clinic in Pierce and Michael Lounsbury, who staffs the Kooskia Medical Clinic. Joseph is serving as Ray’s PA preceptor, but she is spending much of her rotation in the hospital’s Emergency Room.

 “We regularly host medical residents through the Family Medicine Residency program in Boise and other health professionals through the Idaho SEARCH program both at CVHC and at St. Mary’s Hospital,” said Casey Meza, CEO. “We feel it’s important to provide a rural experience for students. They also share their new insights and approaches with us. Of course, we always are looking for health professionals who might want to stay and practice locally. We try to do anything we can do to encourage health professionals to remain in Idaho once they are through with their education.”

Stacy is the daughter of Tom and Wendy Ray. Her sister, Melissa, also an OHS graduate, is an engineer who resides in Portland working for a wind power energy company.

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