Pat Carr is the Director of the Alaska Office of Rural Health in Juneau. She is also the Section Chief for Health Planning and Systems Development. Pat moved to Alaska from North Carolina in 1993 and started working with the state office three years later. She is on the Frontier and Rural Expert Panel of the National Center for Frontier Communities and the Advisory Committee for the University of Alaska Anchorage master’s in Public Health program. In her free time, Pat enjoys cross country skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, fly fishing and tennis.

As Director, what are your two biggest challenges and how do you meet them?

There are competing priorities and shifts in funding levels. It takes diligence to stay focused on our goal of improving health and access to health care. Strategic planning and maintaining partnerships with others who share the same goal are ways that I meet these challenges.

What makes your SORH different than those in the “lower 48”?

Alaska is a big state geographically but we have a smaller population and in many ways, less complex organizations. We are able to get to know and work with lead staff of these organizations easily. No matter the rural health issues we are working on, the same people are around the table. The richness of our Alaska Native cultures is a special resource.

You mentioned that most areas in Alaska are considered frontier and are connected by water rather than roads. Tell us about the unique challenge of travelling through your state.

Most of my staff members are in Juneau, however I have some staff members in Anchorage, 500 miles away, and I have to fly to meet with them face to face. I have traveled to communities by jet, float plane, small wheeled planes, and ferry. I have been picked up at local airports by four-wheelers and by pick-up trucks where my seat was in the back. The communities are so different. I love traveling throughout Alaska and I never stop learning!