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Featured Member

Let’s Get our Priorities Straight

Featured member Denise Primm is the Program Assistant and Coordinator of the National Health Service Corps’ (NHSC) Student/Resident Experiences and Rotations in Community Health (SEARCH) Program at Tennessee Primary Care Association (TPCA). TPCA supports and unites health centers, healthcare providers, health professions schools, and others to improve access to health care for the medically underserved in Tennessee.

In reflecting on her work with TPCA and her involvement with CCPH, Denise discusses the big picture: “CCPH provides a big-picture viewpoint that allows me to expand both my networking opportunities and my frame of reference . . . Quality health care should be a right for every citizen. The fact that we can spend billions of dollars on one aircraft carrier and refuse to provide universal health care to our citizens signifies an indifference to the needs of others and a lack of concern for our fellow humans. Is this the kind of world we want to live in and pass on to our children? Let’s get our priorities straight.”

Briefly, what is the mission of your organization?
What do you most want people to know about the work that you do and the unique characteristics of your organization?
What are you passionate about in your work? What has motivated you to become involved in community-university partnerships?
What is your dream for the future of your organization and/or community-campus partnerships you're involved in?
What wisdom would you like to communicate to others in this field? What advice would you give to a student or professional just entering into the field?
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work and how are working to overcome it?
If you could give advice to a policymaker what would you recommend?
Why did you join CCPH? How would you describe the organization to your colleagues?
What does “community-campus partnership” mean to you?
What value do you see in being a member of CCPH to meet your future goals for your organization and for the field? What is your favorite part of CCPH?
What strengths and talents do you bring to CCPH?
What has been your biggest challenge at work and how have you overcome it?
What keeps you motivated to do the work you do?

Q: Briefly, what is the mission of your organization?

A: The Tennessee Primary Care Association (TPCA) is a not-for-profit corporation with the goal of strengthening community-based primary health care systems in Tennessee. In support of its mission, the Association has a fundamental commitment to maximizing access to health care for all Tennesseans with emphasis on the medically underserved. The Association identifies areas of unmet need, assists in the development of systems of care, advocates for primary care resources, and promotes awareness of community and migrant health centers and the services they provide.

Tennessee Primary Care Association, founded in 1976, unites health centers and other providers of care in an effort to improve primary health care access for the medically underserved. We are a bridge between community needs and the decision makers at the federal, state, local, and corporate levels. Our core members are Tennessee's federally-funded health centers. Other TPCA members include primary health care clinics throughout the state, health professions schools, health care consultants, and interested individuals. Our member health centers provide a strong safety-net for the medically underserved through the state of Tennessee.

Q: What do you most want people to know about the work that you do and the unique characteristics of your organization?

A: Tennessee Primary Care Association's work is expansive. We are involved in helping our member clinics find funding opportunities; we provide educational workshops; we assist in helping our members apply for the health disparities disease collaboratives (a quality-based model of care that is a primary focus of the Bureau of Primary Health Care); we provide rotations in medically underserved communities for health professions students (aiding the recruitment and retention of health care providers to these areas); and we advocate for public policy that will help our members provide quality care to the underserved community.

Q: What are you passionate about in your work?

A: Our member health clinics serve the underserved (the underinsured and uninsured) of our state. From the inter-cities to the small rural communities, they work to provide primary health care and behavioral health care at a time when resources are tight and our state and national priorities are focused on other issues. I am passionate about helping our members fulfill their mission.

Q: What is your dream for the future of your organization and/or community-campus partnerships you're involved in?

A: One dream is that TPCA becomes recognized as the "go to" resource for policy makers in the area of safety-net issues and services for the underserved populations.

Q: What wisdom would you like to communicate to others in this field? What advice would you give to a student or professional just entering into the field?

A: Know that when working in the nonprofit world, and especially with underserved populations, the cornerstone of our work is educating the public. Policy makers and citizens have to be continually reminded of the need and your role in serving that need. I would advise anyone interested in this work to be ready for every day to be different and for the challenges to be great. But I would also say that the rewards are great as well.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face in your work and how are working to overcome it?

A: As with every nonprofit organization, we stay challenged by a growing need and a budget that is not commensurate with that need. We keep abreast of grant opportunities that enable us to provide more services to our members.

Q: If you could give advice to a policymaker what would you recommend?

A: Quality health care should be a right for every citizen. The fact that we can spend billions of dollars on one aircraft carrier and refuse to provide universal health care to our citizens signifies an indifference to the needs of others and a lack of concern for our fellow humans. Is this the kind of world we want to live in and pass on to our children? Let's get our priorities straight.

Q: Why did you join CCPH? How would you describe the organization to your colleagues?

A: One of my responsibilities at the Association is coordinating a program that places health professions students in rotations in underserved communities. The program is called SEARCH (Student/Resident Experiences and Rotations in Community Health). I work with health professions schools throughout the state to promote this program and to find students who are committed to this population. CCPH is a resource to help me as I work with colleges/universities and communities to foster recruitment and retention of health care providers to the underserved.

Q: What does “community-campus partnership” mean to you?

A: My unique community-campus partnership means an opportunity to offer life-changing experiences to students who may then decide to practice health care in areas of need and thereby change lives in those communities.

Q: What value do you see in being a member of CCPH to meet your future goals for your organization and for the field? What is your favorite part of CCPH?

A: CCPH provides a big-picture viewpoint that allows me to expand both my networking opportunities and my frame of reference. I appreciate the sharing of grant opportunities that are so important to our members.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge at work and how have you overcome it?

A: The biggest challenge is not getting discouraged when policy makers are unable or unwilling to give the support we need. Change comes in increments, so we start where we are and over time the message will be heard.

Q: What strengths and talents do you bring to CCPH?

A: Experience in marketing research, editorial skills, health care planning, and program administration.

Q: What keeps you motivated to do the work you do?

A: The need for quality health care for the medically underserved never ends. My motivation is to do whatever I can do to aid the health centers that serve that population. They are giving their lives to that cause and they inspire me to do the same.

Denise Primm
Program Assistant/NHSC SEARCH Coordinator
Tennessee Primary Care Association
416 Wilson Pike Circle
Brentwood, TN 37027-5203
Tel: 615-329-3836, ext. 16
Fax: 615-329-3823
Email: denise@tnpca.org
http://www.tnpca.org
SEARCH: http://www.tnpca.org/search.html


To read about other previous featured members click here.

 

 
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