Collaborations Build Up Cherokee Nation’s Health Workforce

a group of statues of animals in front of a building
a group of statues of animals in front of a building

Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center in Tahlequah, Okla. (Photo/Levi Rickert for Native News Online) Guest Opinion. One of the greatest accomplishments of Cherokee Nation has been building the largest health care system in Indian Country. Our world-class facilities receive more than 1.5 million patient visits each year, and we have strategically built health facilities around our 7,000-square-mile reservation so that no Cherokee on the reservation is more than 30 minutes away from care.

Still, the greatest facilities can do us no good if they are not filled with caring, highly skilled, culturally competent doctors, nurses, physician assistants and other health care staff. To help meet our workforce needs, we partner with the Health Resources and Services Administration, a federal agency that focuses on training health professionals and improving access to health services, especially in rural communities and other high-need areas.

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In 2021, HRSA established the Tribal Advisory Council to be a forum for tribally elected leaders and HRSA staff to collaborate on improving health in Indian Country. I represent the Oklahoma area on the HRSA TAC and was elected as its first chair. Recently, we hosted a meeting of the TAC in our capital of Tahlequah.

Over two days, other tribal leaders on the TAC and I discussed Native health issues with HRSA leadership, including the health workforce, maternal and child health, rural health policy, and more. We heard […]

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