Transforming Rural Health Metrics

AWC and YRMC compete for innovation, excellence on global stage

June 19, 2023

Yuma, AZ (June 19, 2023) – Arizona Western College’s partnership with Yuma Regional Medical Center to create innovative solutions in rural healthcare has garnered global recognition. AWC was recently selected as one of five Triple E Awards finalists in the running for Community Engagement Initiative of the Year.

On June 26, AWC and YRMC leaders will travel to Barcelona, Spain for the Triple E Awards ceremony where they will be celebrated as finalists and showcase their first-of-its-kind partnership to address the rural healthcare workforce shortage. Presenters will include Reetika Dhawan, AWC Entrepreneurial College Chief Executive Officer and Vice President of Workforce Development; Dr. Trudie Milner, YRMC Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; Dr. Daniel Corr, AWC President; and Dr. Robert Trenschel, YRMC President and CEO. Finalists will be judged based on a two-step evaluation process to determine award winners in each category.

The community will also have an opportunity to cast their votes to determine the overall People’s Choice Award winner of the 2023 Triple E Awards as well as the People’s Choice winners in each award category. Voting will be live until Sunday, June 25, at 10am CET. The list of finalists can be found here with links to vote under each entry. The direct link with more information about how to vote for AWC can be found here. The Community Voting/People’s Choice Awards are independent of the expert evaluation that will determine the winner in each Triple E Awards category. The People’s Choice Awards aim to provide an additional recognition opportunity to finalists by considering the views of the community.

With a shared vision of transforming healthcare education, AWC and YRMC entered into an affiliation agreement in February to create new programs and facilities for a sustainable future of a wide range of healthcare training. The early plans include a new $40 million, 78,000-square-foot allied health training facility adjacent to YRMC. 

The teaching and learning facility will serve students in a variety of allied health fields from certificate-level programs to medical resident students on rotation. With simulation labs, lecture halls, and classrooms, the facility will also feature cross-functional learning so all can benefit from a larger ecosystem of technicians, clinicians, doctors, and support staff. Additionally, it will include university partners offering bachelor’s degree programs and beyond, aligning with AWC’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal of doubling the baccalaureate attainment rate in the region by 2035. The facility has the potential to attract new talent to the region, while also retaining students who currently leave the community to obtain additional training and education. 

Beyond the new construction of the new facility, AWC and YRMC are dedicated to the shared responsibility of building the pipeline for the allied health educational ecosystem – from curriculum to pathways to hiring faculty to articulating programs with higher-level education partners.

Early work in this realm demonstrates shared capacity to accomplish this goal with the Community Health Worker Program and Mental Health Technician Program as well as with the expansion of AWC’s Nursing Program, which grew by more than 35% in the last year. 

“This collaborative effort is an example of how two organizations with strategic priorities based on identified community needs can come together to effect real change and provide meaningful solutions. I believe that our entrepreneurial college and hospital partnership will serve as a model for other rural communities,” said Dhawan.

With over 1,600 students choosing a healthcare major annually, there is a demand for educational programs in the community. To help address this need, AWC and YRMC are providing access to early information about diverse career pathways in healthcare, training opportunities such as apprenticeships and internships, certifications, degree programs, and upskilling. AWC currently offers more than 30 certifications related to healthcare.

“We are committed to doing our part to create a future full of hope and opportunity for all, especially those living in rural communities,” said Dr. Corr. “We must continue to be champions of collaboration and work together to inspire our future healthcare heroes and innovators. Our collective efforts will make a real difference in the lives of many. By investing in our local population, we are creating a better tomorrow for everyone.”

Dr. Trenschel added, “Collaboration brought us together, but it was our collective commitment to our community and finding innovative solutions to the national workforce shortage that really pushed us to think big.  As we look to the future, the potential is significant. Through this unique partnership, we are planting seeds of opportunity that will serve our community for generations to come.”

Organized by the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities, the Triple E Awards are a global recognition of efforts toward the quest for entrepreneurship and engagement in higher education. The awards aim to foster change in higher education institutions and to emphasize their role in their communities and ecosystems. 

Yuma Regional Medical Center is a 406-bed, not-for-profit hospital dedicated to providing outstanding medical care to the residents of Yuma and the surrounding communities in southwestern Arizona. The YRMC team includes more than 2,000 employees, over 365 medical providers and hundreds of volunteers who work closely together to create a welcoming, caring, and compassionate environment for patients and their families.

Arizona Western College
Located in the sunny, southwest corner of the state, Arizona Western College supports Yuma and La Paz communities by offering over 170 degrees and certificates in a wide range of academic and career and technical programs as well as non-credit courses in professional development, customized training, and personal enrichment areas. With 12 different locations and a service area that spans 10,000 square miles, AWC is also exceptionally unique in that it hosts all three state universities on its main campus for face-to-face classes. These partnerships provide seamless transfer pathways to baccalaureate degrees and beyond in a variety of high-demand programs. AWC is committed to doubling the rate of baccalaureate degrees earned in Yuma and La Paz counties by 2035 and is dedicated to its mission of transforming lives through education and partnerships to create thriving communities. 

Lori Stofft
Vice President for Advancement and 
Executive Director for the AWC Foundation
Arizona Western College
(928) 314-9595

Mandy Heil
Associate Dean of Marketing & Communications
Arizona Western College 
(928) 314-9594