By Michael Haederle

Connecting Campus & Countryside

UNM Office for Community Health Names Matthew Probst to Lead Rural Engagement

Matthew Probst, PA, a longtime San Miguel County resident, has been named director of Rural Community Engagement for The University of New Mexico Office for Community Health.

Probst, who previously served as medical director and chief quality officer for El Centro Family Health, a network of family practice clinics with 26 locations in 14 northern New Mexico communities, is a 2003 graduate of UNM’s Physician Assistant program.

Probst sees his new role as an outgrowth of the advocacy work he has done on behalf of his neighbors in northern New Mexico during the COVID epidemic, especially those whose lives were upended by the massive Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire in 2022.

“Over the past three years I’ve developed all these relationships with policymakers, elected officials and philanthropists,” he said.I see my job as connecting the University of Mexico and the Office for Community Health with rural New Mexico,” he said.

I see my job as connecting the University of Mexico and the Office for Community Health with rural New Mexico.

Matthew Probst, PA

Arthur Kaufman, MD, Vice President for Community Health, said Probst brings a unique set of skills and connections to the newly created position.

“Matt is well known across the state and nationally,” Kaufman said. “He has been one of the most effective advocates for community-led approaches to social determinants, growing our own health workforce, building neighborhood schools, addressing the COVID and opioid crises and devising innovative strategies for meeting dire community health needs in primary care.”

Probst grew up in Tierra Amarilla and Nambé. He earned three community college associate’s degrees in biology, exercise science and fine art before deciding to attend UNM’s PA program. 

The curriculum involved problem-based learning, with PA students attending lectures alongside medical students, Probst says. He did some of his clinical rotations in Las Vegas and at the Santa Fe Indian Hospital, and he wound up taking a job at El Centro after he graduated.

Probst has a special interest in supporting young people in the community interested in providing health care, but he notes that many of them are dissuaded by the demands of the job. 

Developing a health care workforce as a priority is linked to social determinants of health,” he said. “I need to advocate for changing health care systems so they can have a rewarding vocation and they can have a balanced life.”

Probst said that in stepping away from his administrative duties at El Centro he looks forward to once again providing primary care for patients in a new part-time role at the Sunrise family health clinic in Las Vegas.

“I was made to be a provider, one on one with patients,” he said. “I’ll take care of patients until the day I die.”

Categories: Communities to Careers, Community Engagement, Diversity, News You Can Use, Top Stories