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Our members know their states! Learn from Cindy Ellis why Texas has it all--whatever it may be you're looking for! 

Name: Cindy Ellis

City, State: Austin, TX

Organization: Texas Primary Care Office

How long have you lived in Texas? Why do you choose to live there?

I’ve lived in Texas for 28 years. I moved to Austin for graduate school. I didn't enjoy grad school but loved Austin and the surrounding Hill Country. I left for a couple of years but couldn’t stay away.

How is 3RNet impacting Texas? While 3RNet has been historically underutilized in Texas by most, except our Associate Member, Texas Association of Community Health Centers, there has been an increased effort for the rural communities and Rural Health Clinics to take advantage of this great resource.

What are the best cultural events that happen in Texas?

Texas is a large and diverse state so there are a lot of different events across the state. From the main stream events like the State Fair in Dallas, Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg, multiple Renaissance Festivals, and the Austin City Limits Music Festival, to the more out of the ordinary events like the Great Texas Mosquito Festival (yes, it’s a real thing), Bertram’s Oatmeal Festival, Buda’s Weiner Dog Races, or the Suhawe Summer Ceremonials celebrating Native American cultures in Texas; you can find something to pique your interests in Texas.   

Why should a health professional choose Texas over surrounding states?

Texas is growing in terms of health care needs, but also in opportunities for both health professionals and their spouses, as well as educational opportunities for their children at all levels.  With a large number of health professions schools, there are also ample resources for continuing education.  Many professional organizations also offer CME for their members. 

What loan repayment programs does Texas have? Anything that makes those programs unique?

In addition to National Health Service Corps & NURSE Corps, Texas has the Physician Education Loan Repayment Program (PELRP), & the Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals (LRPMHP) which is matched with State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The PELRP is easier to get accepted into than NHSC and offers a more benefit for the same amount of service. For those applying September 1, 2019 or later, PELRP will pay up to $180,000 for four years of full time service in a Health Professional Shortage Area.

The State Office of Rural Health (SORH) administers a Central Texas regional program through the St David’s Foundation as well as the Rural Communities Healthcare Investment Program (RCHIP).  

RCHIP is different from the other programs in that the facilities apply for the funding instead of the provider. The facilities that receive funding decide which if their providers receive the funds within the parameters set for the program.

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in Texas?

Texas fills all of its Conrad 30 slots each year. Despite higher priority given to primary care physician and psychiatrists, specialists still receive the majority of the recommendations. This year we have broadened the eligibility requirements and added additional ranking criteria to encourage more primary care physicians to apply.

Are healthcare professionals valued in Texas?

Texas recognizes the growing need for quality healthcare providers. You can see this in several programs and initiatives to increase access to care. This includes incentive programs such as loan repayment assistance or Visa waivers and an increasing number of clinical training program. 

Why do people travel to Texas?

There is a rich cultural heritage in Texas providing a variety of things to do in Texas; something for everyone. We have music and film festivals, historic sites such as the Alamo, state and national parks such as Enchanted Rock and Big Bend for the outdoor enthusiasts. If shopping is your thing, you can go to the San Antonio Riverwalk. There are plenty of lakes as well as the Gulf Coast if you want to be on the water. Because Texas is so large, road trips are a must. You never know what you’ll find by traveling across the state. Texas is full of hidden treasures, like family-owned diners with fabulous food, great little stores, and lots of places to get locally grown, locally brewed, or locally roasted goods like coffee at Big Bend Roasters in Marfa, Texas. There are also seasonal things. If you’re here in the spring, enjoy the wildflowers, take a picture in the bluebonnets, and visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. 

What sports teams does Texas have?

With the wide variety of sports and teams in Texas a sports fan can find something to cheer about.

College sports are a big thing in this state. From the Texas-Oklahoma football rivalry, to consistent appearances in the Road to the Final Four basketball tournament for both men and women, and frequent appearances in the College World Series, we can cheer for our favorite college teams year-round. Whether you cheer for the Texas Longhorns, Texas A & M Aggies, Texas Tech Red Raiders, TCU Horned Frogs, or Baylor Bears, you can find people to cheer with you, and probably against you. Just make sure you know the difference between “Guns Up!” “Gig ‘Em!” and “Hook ‘Em!”. 

Then there are the professional teams: the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans (football); the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs & Dallas Mavericks (basketball); and also, the Texas Rangers in Arlington & the Houston Astros (baseball).

Austin is home to the only Formula 1 Race Track in the United States. and professional soccer is growing in popularity as well.

What is your favorite local food?

While Texas is known for both BBQ and TexMex you can find almost any kind of food you want without looking too hard.  To set the record straight, yes, we will fry almost anything; and queso is its own food group. My personal favorite dish is a Fried Avocado.  

What is Texas best known for?

It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing Texas is best known for, so I guess you can say we’re known for being Texas: where everything is bigger and better! We’re home to three Presidential Libraries as well as NASA. Also, Remember the Alamo!

What is the biggest misconception about Texas?

First forget almost every western movie you’ve ever seen (except ‘The Alamo’). Texas is not all flat, with tumbleweeds blowing through small towns connected by dirt or gravel roads. Nor all we all gun-totin’, spur-wearin’, horse ridin’, pick-up drivin’ cowboys. Yes, you will find those in Texas, without having to look too far at times; but we also have three of the 10 largest cities in the United States: Houston, San Antonio, & Dallas, and Austin comes in at 11.  For the record, you can find a pickup parked next to a luxury car in both the rural and urban areas. Texas is a delightful mix of urban and rural. 

What are the biggest industries in Texas?

Texas leads in many industries, including agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Additionally, the film industry is growing in Texas.

How is the weather/climate in Texas?

The climate varies depending on what part of the state you’re in. West Texas is more dry and arid, the Eastern and Coastal regions are more humid. While the temperature ranges from upper Panhandle to the Gulf Coast can be as great as 50 degrees, the state is generally not that extreme on a daily basis. For the most part we enjoy mild winters and hot summers. If you don’t like the weather, don’t worry, it will change soon enough! 

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