Back Trainings


We offer a broad range of trainings that support the long-term behavioral health and wellbeing of all New Mexicans. Together we can make things better.
Back Research & Publications

Research & Publications

Back Advocacy


Back About CHI-PHI


As New Mexico's public health institute we believe in – and deeply value – the power of community in creating wellbeing, resilience, diversity, inclusivity and equity. About CHI-PHI
Back Partner with us

Partner with us

Home » Uncategorized » Local facilities to foster future healthcare professionals

Local facilities to foster future healthcare professionals


Friday, January 5, 2024; Silver City, NM: Keep it local, is the motto of Mike McMillan, the operations officer and athletic trainer at Southwest Bone and Joint Institute in Silver City.

Every year McMillan and the Institute’s dedicated staff open their doors to the local students in the Dream Makers Health Careers Program and Teen Academy for Health Sciences, sponsored by the  Frontier and Rural Workforce Development New Mexico Area Health Education Center (FNM AHEC). The high school and junior high students from various local schools get personalized tours of the facility.

Dream Makers Health Career Program students tour the Southwest Bone and Joint Institute’s physical therapy facility with Mike McMillan (far right), operations officer and athletic trainer. (From left to right) Gracie Hould, Roma Subedi, Cielo Martinez, Stephane Gonzales, Dakota “Lucy” Montenegro, Ivy Stephens-Ethridge, Liam Stephens-Ethridge, and Deidranee Abeyta.

“We want to open the students’ eyes that there are many options and opportunities for a career in health care,” said McMillian. “They can be the next generation of health care providers in our community.”

McMillan knows the tribulations of growing up in a small community, “I spent 18 years trying to figure out how to get out of here then I went to school other places and spent 10 years trying to get back to Silver City.” He and several of the Institute Staff, including board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Robinson and Physicians Assistant Rick Lemke, grew up in Silver City and later returned to provide healthcare to the area residents.

Right next door is the Silver City Veterans Administration Community-based Outpatient Clinic, another local facility investing in the future of healthcare professionals.

Clinic Director Victor Gonzales believes welcoming the students is essential to increase the desperately needed healthcare professionals in underserved areas. The counties in southwest New Mexico are Federally Designated Shortage Area for Primary Medical Care, Mental Health, and Dental Health Professionals. 

Silver City Veterans Administration Community-based Outpatient Clinic director Victor Gonzales (second from right) showed the students from the Dream Makers Health Career Program medical facility to see first-hand the diverse workforce of professionals who staff the clinic. (Left to right) Gracie Hould, Dakota “Lucy” Montenegro, Ivy Stephens-Ethridge, Liam Stephens-Ethridge, Roma Subedi, Cielo Martinez, Stephane Gonzales and Deidranee Abeyta

The students who visit these facilities are the hope of the future to fill this critical gap in care. Multiple studies have shown rural students who become healthcare providers tend to return to their hometowns or other small communities to practice their profession.

FNM AHEC coordinator, Tayler Lopez said, “The local clinics’ participation is vital to our program’s success to spark interest in students.”

Over the last decade, students from Aldo Leopold Charter School, Cobre Consolidated School District, Deming Public Schools, Lordsburg Municipal Schools, and Silver City Consolidated Schools have participated in the free program.

Students participate in hands-on labs and learn the ins and outs of the professions from health care experts. Their club experience culminates with a visit to the prestigious University of New Mexico Health Sciences Department and sightseeing while in Albuquerque.

“We want to give the students a glimpse into the variety of what they can do in a VA clinic and how they can give back to the heroes who served our country,” Gonzales said.

He has led hundreds of students over the years through the clinic to experience first-hand one of the largest serving VA clinics in New Mexico. Veterans account for almost 10 percent of Grant County’s population – and the clinic serves veterans living throughout the southwest corner of the state. The closest VA clinic is located 120 miles away in Las Cruces.

Gonzales said when he was in school, he never considered options like working at a VA Clinic. “I want to our clinic to help broaden the horizons of students and think about taking care of our nation’s heroes.”

McMillan feels the same and takes time to introduce the students to the Institute’s entire team of health professionals including administrative staff, radiologists, medical assistants, MRI technicians, and physical and occupational therapists. “We want to expose the students to all the health career options and opportunities – not only doctors but a whole variety of people that make our Institute a success.”

Lopez reported well over 200 students have visited the clinics since she facilitated the program. “We are grateful to the clinics and health professionals who donate their time and expertise to foster the future,” Lopez said. FNM AHEC is a program of the Center for Health Innovation, Public Health Institute of New Mexico.

For more information on the Dream Makers Health Career Program or the Teen Academy of Health Sciences contact Lopez at (575) 597-0040 or or visit: