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Tom Himelick PA-C, MMSc - Primary care clinic in western New Mexico

Tom Himelick, PA-C, MMSc graduated in 1991 from the Emory PA Program and worked in ENT / Head and Neck Surgery at Emory, and then in general Pediatrics at Grady Memorial before coming back to the Emory PA Program as faculty in 1994. While at Emory he served in a variety of faculty roles (clinical coordinator, director of clinical coordinators, associate program director) between 1994-2001, and 2003-2010. His passion at Emory for fourteen of those years was the coordination of the South Georgia Farmworker Health Project. He continued in part-time clinical practice while a faculty member, first in Pediatrics at Grady, then in pediatrics / family medicine in two free clinics in northeast Georgia. His focus through most of these years was in serving medically underserved population, and encouraging Emory PA students to do the same.

 In the summer of 2010, Tom left his position at Emory to return to full time clinical practice in a small clinic in western New Mexico. He is one of five providers (2 MDs, 2 PAs, 1 NP) providing care for predominantly Navajo patients in a very remote location. Tom says “Walmart is 65 miles away, and the cell signal drops out frequently between here and there. I love living small!” The clinic, school, and staff housing compound are at an elevation of 7600’, with beautiful blue days over the pinyon-juniper woodlands and volcanic landscape, cool star-filled nights, and bit more snow than Georgia. The clinic in which he practices was the first tribally run clinic in the U.S. and is still proudly supported by local Navajo chapter and people. His work includes visits from newborn through geriatrics, and he especially enjoys home visits twice a month to shima (grandmothers) on the reservation. He’s had to brush up on venipuncture and injections for those visits! Diabetes is unfortunately very common, and he also sees quite a few patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Although having no expectations of becoming fluent in the complicated Navajo language, he is trying to pick up some phrases for social and medical use. Fortunately, the clinic has a staff of Navajo field health workers who provide essential services interpreting and reaching out to patients (along with transportation, health education, and follow up on patients). Tom says “I’ve already learned a lot from them, and always look forward to our home visits together”.

 The clinic is moving towards implementing Electronic Health Records, and Tom is the medical provider representative on the implementation team. He is looking forward to using his “geeky side” again on this project.

 Tom says “I am thrilled to be here, and have the position now that I saw myself in when I first applied to Emory for PA school! I feel like I am ‘home’ as a PA”. 

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