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Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929

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Health Care for Wyoming

woman putting a medical boot on a person's foot
Emily Yorges works with a patient at North Platte Physical Therapy.

From social workers to doctors and nurses, the College of Health Sciences educates the state’s health-care workforce.

By Micaela Myers

Emily Yorges, North Platte Physical Therapy

After growing up Douglas, Emily Yorges knew she wanted to stay in Wyoming and serve rural populations. At UW, she earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and health promotion with an athletic training focus (2010).

“UW allowed me to have real experiences working with a variety of athletes and injuries on and off the field,” Yorges says. “My senior year was spent mostly working with the football team. That year, they ended their 2009 season by winning the New Mexico Bowl. We were able to spend countless hours in the training room as well as travel with the teams for games. This gave me tons of hands-on experience outside of the classroom and really pushed us to use the skills we had learned in the classroom.”

Yorges, who went on to earn her doctorate in physical therapy from South College, works as a physical therapist and athletic trainer for North Platte Physical Therapy. In addition to seeing clients, Yorges helped create an athletic training program. The program covers sporting events and practices at area middle and high schools.

She appreciates living in Torrington with her husband, Colin, and their sons Colby and Dax.

“I love the lasting connections I have made with people all over the state,” Yorges says. “No matter where you are, someone generally has a connection to you somehow. I truly believe there is no better time to stay in Wyoming than the present. Wyoming has so much to offer — from its outdoor appeal to its wonderful people.”

Dr. Tricia Jensen, Family Practice Specialist

“I have very fond memories of growing up in Wyoming,” says Dr. Tricia Jensen, originally of Douglas. “When I became a physician, I knew I wanted to come back and serve the residents of Wyoming.”

Jensen earned her bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and physiology (2014) and went on to earn her M.D. through the WWAMI program and the University of Washington School of Medicine (2018).

As a family medicine physician in Gillette, Jensen treats patients of all ages as their primary care doctor. “I love getting to know everyone in the family when patients establish care with me,” she says.

Jensen loves living and working in Wyoming. “There are a lot of great job opportunities in Wyoming,” she says. “The culture here is very welcoming, and people appreciate those who want to remain in the state. Rural communities especially are in need of numerous professions.”

four people sitting at or standing by a table
WWAMI medical students Jenni Ebersberger, Andrew Quinn, Andrew White and Ross Cook take part in an ultrasound imaging session. (Photo courtesy of WWAMI)
Programs for Doctors and Dentists

A doctor shortage exists worldwide. Rural areas are especially feeling the pinch. To help supply the state with medical doctors, dentists and nurse practitioners, the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences offers several programs.

WWAMI: UW partners with the University of Washington School of Medicine to offer medical education. WWAMI is an acronym for the five states that participate: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Each year, Wyoming receives 20 seats open to qualified applicants. Students spend 18 months at UW, then their third and fourth years are spent at select clinical sites throughout the WWAMI region. Of the 225 Wyoming students to go all the way through residency in the program (1997-2022), 137 returned to the state to practice, filling an important role in Wyoming’s health-care system and the lives of residents.

WYDENT: The state of Wyoming pays for the dental education of two qualified students each year — one attending the University of Nebraska College of Dentistry and the other attending Creighton University School of Dentistry. The program is administered through UW’s College of Health Sciences. Since its inception in 2007, the number of dentists returning to the state as part of the contractual agreement between dental students and UW is evidence of the success of WYDENT — 72 as of 2022. One of the 2023 students accepted to the program is Brooklynn Counts, a native of Casper and a first-generation college student. She says, “I fully intend to return to Wyoming and, hopefully, the Casper community to be able to gain experience in the field of dentistry while helping my hometown community.”

Doctor of Nursing Practice: Many folks rely on nurse practitioners for much of their health-care needs. UW offers two focuses: family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Since 2015, of the 108 graduates, 72 are actively practicing in the state and providing important medical care to citizens.

New Physician Assistant Program

Physician assistants (PAs) play an ever-increasing role in health care. They conduct exams, write prescriptions, diagnose illnesses, create treatment plans and more. PAs attend three academic years of graduate school and engage in 2,000 hours of clinical rotations before taking their certification exams. This year, Wyoming’s supplemental state budget included $7.5 million for the College of Health Sciences to plan, develop and sustain an accredited physician assistant training program. Stay tuned for updates as the program develops.

Deidre Ashley, Mental Health & Recovery Services of Jackson Hole

Deidre Ashley serves as executive director of Mental Health & Recovery Services of Jackson Hole, returning to where she grew up. Ashley earned an undergraduate degree in political science (1996) before deciding to return to school to study psychology and complete her master’s degree in social work (2011).

“Mental health and human services in general is such a meaningful career for me, and I love being a part of addressing policy and working to meet the demands for behavioral health needs in our community and across the state,” she says. “I absolutely love living and working in Teton County. Not only is the area beautiful, but the community is so caring and compassionate about helping each other out when the need arises.”

To fellow students hoping to stay in state, she says to appreciate everything our small towns have to offer, including their deep history and friendly residents.

head phot of a woman
Nichole Taylor (Courtesy photo)
Nichole Taylor, New Horizons Psychiatry

Nichole Taylor of Denton, Montana, first attended UW to earn a degree in geology (2003). However, she soon decided her true calling was nursing. Taylor returned to UW to earn her undergraduate nursing degree (2015) and then her Doctor of Nursing Practice (2018). She was named the Susan McCabe Psychiatric Mental Health Graduate Award winner, an honor given to a student who demonstrates academic excellence in the classroom, a passion for knowledge and superior clinical practice.

“UW’s School of Nursing helped guide my higher level of education,” she says, adding that UW provides the preparation and support needed for students to succeed in their certifications.

As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, Taylor now owns New Horizons Psychiatry in Gillette.

“I am the psychiatric provider attending to psychiatric care across the lifespan starting at age 5 to geriatric care for those 85 years and older,” she says.

Taylor and her husband lived in Wyoming for 15 years before moving to Gillette. “Wyoming feels like my original home — Montana — with authentic people who have authentic values,” she says. “I appreciate Gillette’s kindness and willingness to accept outsiders of the area.”

To students hoping to work in state, Taylor advises, “If you don’t find your ideal career related to your education, create your career.”

Contact Us

Institutional Communications
Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)