University of Washington School of Medicine
Ruth Ballweg is the director of the MEDEX Northwest Physician Assistant Program at the University of Washington School of Medicine. As the MEDEX director, she is actively involved in healthcare workforce issues in Washington, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada. At the national level, she was appointed a primary care health policy fellow in 1992, and since that time has been increasingly involved in the formulation of federal policy on the expansion of the primary care workforce. She served a three-year term as a member of the National Advisory Council to the National Health Service Corps. In April 1997 she was appointed to the Pew Health Professions Commission
Ms. Ballweg works extensively with national and regional leaders of the nurse practitioner, family medicine, and physician assistant communities and regularly serves as a consultant for health care organizations on the issue of interdisciplinary primary care teams. She is a past president of the Association of Physician Assistant Programs and the Washington Academy of Physician Assistants. She is also an advisory to the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission.
As an author, Ms. Ballweg is known as the editor and contributor to the first American textbook written on PA training. She has also written on women's professional roles in healthcare, on the training of community health workers as physician assistants, and on the composition of the primary care workforce. Her experience in underdeveloped settings includes the training and deployment of PAs and community health workers in Alaska.
Ms. Ballweg's clinical background is in family practice with emphasis on maternal-child health issues. She has also worked as a family planning clinician in a public health setting. As an advocate for childbearing women, she was the co-founder of the first in-hospital Alternative Birthing Center in the State of Oregon and participated in the development of birthing center policies for the Oregon State Department of Health. In addition to her role as an educator of physician assistants, she has also served as instructor for nurse practitioner students in the University of Washington School of Nursing's health policy seminars, and developed and taught the gynecology curriculum for the Seattle Midwifery School.
Ms. Ballweg's current research activities involve surveys of the primary care workforce in Washington state — as part of the Workforce Data Subcommittee of the Department of Health — analysis of outcomes (employment choices) of primary care educational programs, the design of a research tool to assess reimbursement trends for physician assistants, and nurse practitioners, and the development of surveys to identify barriers to practice for PAs, and NPs.
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