Steven R. Shelton, assistant vice president for Community Outreach at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and Executive Director of Texas AHEC East, received the 2015 Louis Gorin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rural Health Care at the National Rural Health Association’s annual conference April 16.
Each year, the Gorin Award is presented to an outstanding individual who has dedicated time and talent to improving the health and wellbeing of rural Americans. The award is given in memory of Louis Gorin, a federal employee who for 25 years helped lead the design and authorization of health initiatives for rural America. Recipients are selected based on their creativity, unselfishness, compassion and cooperative attitude in seeking ways to make lasting contributions to rural health care with demonstrated effects at state and national levels.
“I am deeply honored and humbled to be the 2015 Louis Gorin Award recipient. I have tremendous respect for so many individuals who have distinguished themselves as champions of rural health, and I have learned much from each of them. To be recognized in their midst is just overwhelming,” Shelton said.
Shelton’s rural-focused work began as a family practice PA in a Texas coastal rice farming community. That experience fostered his career in health workforce development, health literacy, and community health improvement. An influential leader and faculty member at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston since 1978, Shelton has championed educational programs relevant to rural practice. In 2012 he was named Distinguished Alumnus of the UTMB School of Health Professions.
Since its inception in 1991, Shelton has been director of the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program at UTMB. His 25-year leadership of Texas AHEC East is at the heart of his work impacting rural health policy, legislation, healthcare and health programs. This health workforce development program has substantially impacted the rural health workforce in East Texas by linking training programs and local providers, building strong community relationships and establishing professional mentorships – all of which are powerful recruitment and retention tools benefitting rural communities.
“This award could not have happened without the support UTMB has provided to the AHEC program and the outstanding efforts of dozens of passionate, committed, and inspired AHEC staff all across the East Texas region,” Shelton added. “While my name is on the award, I cannot claim any success other than what has happened because of those who work alongside me in the things we undertake.”
Shelton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Chemistry in 1973 from Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas, and a BS in Physician Assistant Studies from UTMB in 1975. He was one of six men and eight women in the third class to graduate from the UTMB program. In 1983, he earned an MBA from the University of Houston Clear Lake.
Shelton has been a tenured associate professor in the School of Health Professions Department of Physician Assistant Studies for over 30 years and a clinical assistant professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health for over 20 years. He is course director for the third most popular UTMB School of Medicine 4th year selective course.
While working extensively with community and campus partners to design and implement a wide array of health workforce enhancement programs, Shelton has also found time to serve in national leadership roles and as an international consultant for health workforce policy, planning and development.
He was a founding member of the American Nurse Credentialing Center’s Pathway to Excellence™ Governing Commission and served on the Advisory Committee on Interdisciplinary Community-Based Linkages for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration.
He has served as president of two national organizations: the Association of Physician Assistant Programs and the National AHEC Organization.
Over his career at UTMB, Shelton has been principal or co-principal investigator of grants and contracts totaling nearly $35 million dollars and has administered a total of $90 million in program and project support.
Shelton is a certified physician assistant licensed by the Texas State
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