Clinical Assistant Dean
Mary Barinaga doesn’t think she stands out from her peers, but the colleagues, students, educators and friends who recommended her for a Women of the Year award believe otherwise.
Barinaga is a physician with great compassion, according to Braden J. Lawrence, a fourth-year medical student she has mentored.
“She connects with her patients, providing care and empathy that every patient deserves, while also being a role model for premedical and medical students alike,” he wrote in a letter of recommendation.
As clinical assistant dean for Idaho WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho), Barinaga works with physicians, hospitals and clinics around the state to place medical students in clinical rotations as part of their training. Idaho is part of the five-state medical school partnership with the University of Washington.
Barinaga co-directs the Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST), which provides rural training opportunities for medical students in Idaho and also mentors students in the Underserved Pathway, a curriculum designed to encourage interest in special populations.
She’s also a practicing family physician and clinical faculty at the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, a federally qualified health center that treats underserved patient populations and trains physician residents. Barinaga also makes time to volunteer at the Genesis Community Free Clinic and the Marie Blanchard Friendship Free Clinic, both in Boise.
The daughter of sheep ranchers in Cambridge, Idaho, Barinaga and other family members cared for her parents as they battled cancer. Before moving to Boise, she practiced for 12 years as a rural doctor for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in Plummer, Idaho.
“I believe that health care is a right, not a privilege,” Barinaga said. “Every person deserves access to high- quality care, no matter what.”
Barinaga’s passion for health equity led to her involvement in advocacy efforts to expand Medicaid in Idaho. She is a leader in organized medicine, serving on boards at the state and national levels. She’s been president of the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians and Idaho Rural Health Association and is in line to become president of the Idaho Medical Association.
Serving on the Idaho Graduate Medical Education Committee, Barinaga’s efforts have increased opportunities for medical school graduates to complete their practice residencies here. These doctors are more likely to stay in the state, where many areas have professional shortages.
“This helps produce a robust physician workforce that meets the needs of Idaho, especially in the rural areas,” she explained.
Barinaga has demonstrated academic leadership too, most recently presenting at the World Organization of Family Doctors 2019 World Health Conference in October. In 2017, she was invited to present on the TRUST program at the Consortium for Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships International Conference in Singapore.
“Together we are all better,” she said. “We all bring unique talents and skills to the table, and I am honored to be invited to the table.”