A Community Too Good

By the time Nathanael Longacre, PA-C, (Health Professions ’21) graduated, Midland, Texas, had become home.

Previously a firefighter paramedic, Longacre’s desire to provide care led him to further explore training and health care delivery options. The physician assistant degree’s versatility and courseload appealed to this nontraditional student, said Longacre, PA-C (Health Professions ’21), who works at Medical Center Health System in Odessa, Texas.

Longacre didn’t have TTUHSC high on his list; yet, the superior rankings of its Physician Assistant Studies Program and high pass rates by students on the certification exam were convincing.

But it was the community that changed his mind. The kindness of those he met while in school and accessibility of small-town living “felt homey;” and for Longacre and his family, “It fit.”

Longacre, who is from East Texas, said he did not plan to stay after graduating. Now, he is among the approximately 15% of TTUHSC physician assistant graduates who stay in the Permian Basin.

Longacre and his family enjoyed the area; but, he was drawn to the close-knit medical community. Longacre said Daniel Babbel, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Medical Center Health System, mentored him as a young professional.

Support for health care in the Permian Basin isn’t on the medical community alone. The community as a whole wants to access high-quality health care and are willing to invest in it.

About 30% of the $30 million for TTUHSC’s recently completed physician assistant building expansion came from community partners – Midland Development Corporation, Permian Strategic Partnership, Scharbauer Foundation and Henry Foundation. Legislative funding and TTUHSC provided the remainder.

A portrait photograph of Nathanael Longacre, PA-C, (Health Professions ’21) smiling in his blue medical gown outfit posing outside in front of the blue Medical Center Hospital sign in Odessa, Texas
Nathanael Longacre, PA-C, (Health Professions ’21) feels right at home in the Permian Basin.
The expansion allows TTUHSC to offer academic resources including an anatomy lab, clinical classrooms and training areas, for the Physician Assistant Studies Program at its campus, located on the Midland College campus. The expansion also enables TTUHSC to combat the impending health care shortage by increasing annual class enrollment from 60 to 72 students incrementally over the next three years.

Longacre said that giving more students exposure to the Permian Basin by having this program there is essential. “It allows people kind of like me to see and experience what there is to offer. And in my case … I chose [to stay],” Longacre said.