Presbyterian Medical Services (PMS) was formed over 40 years ago in Santa Fe, NM, and has been with the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) for almost the entire time. With the mission of providing health care services to communities in the Southwest with limited access to care, PMS now consists of 38 Federally Qualified Health Centers throughout the state of New Mexico. Currently, our clinics benefit from close to 30 NHSC members who provide much needed medical, dental, and behavioral health services to our patients.
PMS clinics are located in some of the most remote parts of the state, with geographic barriers that significantly impact our patients’ access to services. Northern and southern New Mexico have very different populations, so we serve a culturally diverse mix of patients. We also see a large number of Native American and Hispanic patients. Many of our patients also live at or below the poverty level and are either uninsured or underinsured, but our mission is to provide health care services regardless of their ability to pay.
One of the things I am most proud of is how dedicated our providers are. Alongside geographic barriers, many patients have severe medical and behavioral health issues that make it difficult for them to travel to our clinics. Our providers chose to see that challenge as an opportunity and are always the first to hop into their Jeeps to provide home care for patients unable to come into the clinics.
We feel extremely fortunate to be a site in the National Health Service Corps. Being an NHSC-approved site has allowed us to attract high quality health care providers. We recruit NHSC clinicians every year and are so appreciative of the impact they make on our community. We’ve found that a personalized approach to recruitment can really make a big difference. Our recruiting strategy begins with attending multiple student medical conferences and posting job openings with every residency in the country. I find that many applicants are interested in PMS because we’re an NHSC-approved site, so I make sure to promote that fact throughout recruitment.
We have also been impressed at how effective the scholarship and loan repayment programs are at provider retention. It’s always inspiring to hear about clinicians who stay even after their NHSC service commitment has been met. One of my favorite stories is of a clinician who came to New Mexico in 1977 as an NHSC Scholar. He began practicing and quickly fell in love with the area. Today, that NHSC Scholar is Presbyterian Medical Services’ Chief Medical Officer!