Pam Murphy, the executive director of the the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic in Woodstock, was appointed by the governor’s office to serve as a member of the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority.
As a member of the advisory board, Murphy said that she’ll be tackling health care workforce shortages in Shenandoah County. Shenandoah County is listed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a health professional shortage area for primary care, dental health and mental health.
“I’ve had a strong heart to help come up with creative ways to get more [health care workers] here — you know, to help these communities that need it so badly,” Murphy said. “So that was my incentive for wanting to get involved and be at the table to have those conversations.”
As the executive director of the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic, Murphy said she has dealt personally with work shortages in the area. Many doctors, Murphy said, come from more urban areas and are reluctant to move to a more rural area.
“You have to really love rural to want to move to a rural area,” Murphy said. “If you’ve been a big city kid all your life, you’re probably going to think in terms of a big city to move back to, you’re going to be expecting and wanting the amenities that come with that.”
The doctor shortages, in addition to the low levels of funding that free clinics tend to have, has made it difficult for the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic to find health care workers.
“One of the things about not having very much money and then living in an underserved area is you’ve got to be really creative sometimes trying to find the staff you need,” Murphy said.
Murphy said that she would like to see state and federal initiatives giving incentives to health care workers who work in medically underserved areas.
Murphy first learned that she was appointed to the advisory board when she was driving. She had submitted her resume in 2015 and was surprised to hear about the appointment.
“I was like, ‘How did you find out about me?’” Murphy said about the phone call.