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Featured Member

Vickie Ybarra, RN, MPH, is Director of Planning and Development for the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, one of the largest community/migrant health care systems in the country, with clinics in Washington and Oregon. She has extensive experience in development, oversight, and evaluation of community programs targeting Hispanic and Spanish-speaking populations. She earned her undergraduate degree in nursing from the University of Washington School of Nursing, and in 1996 completed her Masters in Public Health at the University of Washington. In her role as a member of the Washington State Board of Health she has provided leadership for the Board's Health Disparities efforts, and in May 2001 co-authored the Board's report on Health Disparities focusing on diversifying the state healthcare workforce. Ms. Ybarra has been active in efforts to connect local communities to institutions of higher education. She has conducted research related to the presence and service needs of local undocumented women and children. She also served as a member of the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health board of directors from 1997-2000. Ms. Ybarra is active in her community in Hispanic academic achievement. She works with a local group to distribute scholarship dollars and provide community-wide recognition for academic success of local outstanding Hispanic high school graduates. She has conducted research with the local school district demonstrating the wide gap in college preparedness between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students. Ms. Ybarra is also a recently elected member of the local School Board, with a particular focus on closing the achievement gap between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students.

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?

Vickie Ybarra

A: The primary mission of Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (YVFWC) is to provide primary care and other needed services for farmworkers, the poor, and other underserved in the areas where we have clinics.

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

A: We are one of the largest community/migrant health centers in the nation. Last year we served over 100,000 people in over 320,000 service encounters in two states. Often, when people think of community/migrant health centers, they think of the small organizations that maybe they are most familiar with. Since we're large, we've had the opportunity to think in big ways about things like workforce development, and strategic partnerships. I think we're effectively addressing both for the long term benefit of the populations that we serve.

Q: What are you passionate about in your work?

A: Everything. When I first came to the organization in 1989 I was a brand-new public health nurse. I loved the home visiting, and building a new maternal-child home visiting program from the ground up. For the first three years I was the only nurse in the program, but by the 10th year we had over 20 home visitors - outreach workers, nurses, case managers, community health workers - at three sites. It was great to see that progress, to see the growth in families and in the program.

For the past 4-5 years I've been director of planning and development, an administrative position. My department does the grant writing, needs assessments, program development and strategic planning for the organization. Although I don't see clients directly anymore, I'm still very excited about the work. Its about expanding access and improving quality of services, helping to ensure the organization is around and vibrant, still meeting needs, 10-20 years in the future.

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

A: That they'll continue to grow and develop. Many of the community-campus partnerships we're involved with now are related to workforce development. We have our own community-based HCOP, a pipeline program we call "ConneX: connecting students to health careers", to grow our own health professionals. We're just entering our third year, but its been a very exciting opportunity to invest in the students of our own communities as well as invest in the future of the organization. We have a number of unique community-campus partnerships related to that effort with our local community college, a state university that has all the pre-professional programs, as well as health professions educations institutions that are interested in recruiting students from the valley. Its very exciting.

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: Work hard, and go with what you're passionate about. And find good mentors, mentors can be invaluable resources.

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

A: Being too busy. My experience is that many people who work in community health are just plain too busy - we all have the work of at least three people sitting on our desks, we may have families, we likely volunteer in our community, etc., etc. I spent a good part of my early career honing my organizational skills and learning to be choosy about the opportunities I said "yes" too, but still often felt overwhelmed. Then I discovered that if I wasn't healthy, emotionally and physically, and in my relationships, then I was going to feel overwhelmed no matter what I did. Since I figured that out, and took responsibility for being healthy, I don't feel guilty about doing "too much". Most people who are true community health leaders will always do too much. Its first about being healthy, inside. Then its about balancing all those things, continuing to be happy and excited and committed to what you do, and committed to the people around you.

The other thing too is to take time to take stock - I like to ensure my efforts aren't just efforts, but are producing results. That's not just with work, but with volunteer efforts as well. In that way I'm choosy about where I put my time. I know that often the issues I'm trying to address are going to take long-term effort. But I need to know that they are producing results, or else I need to move on to something else.

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

A: Fund pre-K-12 education adequately, period. Successfully educating all of our children, and eliminating the gaps in educational attainment that have persisted in our society, is the basic answer to just about everything.

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

A: I first joined CCPH when I joined the founding board. Before that I didn't know much about the organization. I did know about the UCSF Center for the Health Professions, and was pleased to be a part of this organization that was related in some way to that center.

I do tell colleagues that CCPH is an important resource in helping us understand and implement truly effective community-campus partnerships for health. They've been an invaluable training resource for us as we've implemented our health professions pipeline program, and have provided wonderful professional development opportunities. I've also valued all the great, committed, really talented people I've met on the board and the staff through the years.

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

A: It means genuine, equal partnerships between communities and higher education, for the benefit of both.

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 gives us a basis to use when talking with higher ed institutions, many of whom are already members. So it's a common reference point in terms of the kind of community-campus partnership we're interested in. This has been very useful in establishing and growing our partnerships related to health workforce development.

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

A: Leadership, energy, vision; and the experience of having worked in a large community of color, having started and sustained programs that have made a difference.

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

A: Focusing efforts on those things that are going to make a difference. See being "too busy" above.

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

A: The needs are so great - and I think that I and others like me who have the skills and vision have an obligation to do what we can.

Vickie Ybarra, RN, MPH
Director of Planning and Development
Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic
708 South 17th Ave.
Yakima, WA 98902
Tel (509) 249-1268
vickiey@yakimahaap.org




To read about other previous featured members click here.

 

 
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