Amanda Carey

DSC03315_2 Amanda Carey at the White Coat Blessing with her husband, Dustin Oxford, and Dustin's aunt and uncle

When the following article was published, Amanda Carey was a PA student. She graduated from the PA Program at Arizona School of Health Sciences A.T. Stills University in August, 2007. Currently she is providing primary care back home in a tribal clinic in Muskogee, Oklahoma. An update follows the article.

A Role Model for American Indian Youth

Amanda Carey, Cherokee, Miss Cherokee 2001-2002, is a second-year student on the Native American Physician Assistant Track in the Arizona School of Health Sciences PA Program. Her husband, Dustin Oxford, Cherokee, is a first year student in the same program and her sister, Candace Burkart, Cherokee, hopes to enter the program in 2007.

Carey currently is back home doing a rotation in internal medicine at Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. This is the same facility where she received care as a child. Her supervising physician, Dr. Anna Miller, is her mother’s physician. In the early morning Carey visits patients in the hospital with Dr. Miller. For the rest of the day, Carey takes care of patients in the clinic.

As Carey demonstrates her growing competence, her preceptor gives her more responsibilities. Initially Miller observed Carey as Carey took the patients’ histories, examined them and performed other parts of the initial assessment. Now that Miller is comfortable with Carey’s basic skills, Carrey assesses each patient by herself. Then, outside the patient’s room, in a mini supervisory session, Carey tells her preceptor what she is learning about the patient as well as what steps she thinks need to be taken next. Miller helps Carey carefully reflect on what she has already done and decide what other steps might be needed. Then Miller joins Carey for the balance of each patient visit.

Sometimes when Carey isn’t working in the clinic, she gives motivational talks to students. She urges them to better themselves in order to better their tribe.

Carey will soon do a rotation in women's health in Tahlequah. When she returns home to her husband in Mesa, she will continue doing rotations.

Finding a Niche

“I was raised with 5 sibling on a small rural farm in northeastern, Oklahoma,” says Carey. My paternal grandmother, who lived next door to us, provided a home remedy kind of natural medicine to a lot of our extended family, so naturally I was interested in that.”

While attending Northeastern State University (NSU) in Tahlequah, Carey spent two years working as a student extern in the W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital pharmacy. During this time she applied for pharmacy school but was unsuccessful. Reflecting on what to do next, Carey realized that she wanted more direct contact with patients than clinical pharmacists typically have. She researched the PA profession and liked what she learned. She was immediately successful in getting into the Arizona School of Health Sciences PA program and realized that she had found her niche.

Carey was newly married when she entered PA school. “I struggled in the beginning. I didn’t get to do the things that I thought I was supposed to do like cook and clean and tend to my husband. He did those things for me. Our roles were reversed. I had a hard time with that until my first midterm. Then I said, “You can do all of that.”

Now she enjoys hearing what her husband, Dustin Oxford, is learning. He was accepted into medical school but chose the PA path instead. Oxford, who is looking forward to doing procedures, also enjoys listening to Amanda talk about the “cool things” she gets to do in the clinic.

Carey isn’t sure what specialty she will choose to practice in. She enjoys being with children but greatly enjoys listening to the Elders in her current rotation. When both of them are PAs, Amanda and Dustin would like to practice in the same facility within the Cherokee Nation.


Carey’s advice regarding becoming a PA, “Talk with someone in the field and research the field on your own.” Once in school, she suggests, “ When you become overwhelmed, take a deep breath and step back. Keep everything in perspective. Go out to dinner with your spouse or friend. Try not to bring the stress from school into your home or the stress from home into school.”
This article was originally published in the Winter 2007 issue of Winds of Change.

Update 2010

Amanda Carey writes: “Dustin and I both work at the Cherokee Nation Hastings Medical Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. I work in the adult medicine clinic and he works in the emergency department. We welcomed our first child, Ava, last summer and continue to live and work within our home community.  My sister, Candice, finished PA school last year and is also working for Cherokee Nation Health Services in one of our rural clinics.”

Amanda says that if there are any individuals who would like to speak with Dustin or her about school, work, health careers etc., she and Dustin would be glad to communicate with them. To reach Amanda and Dustin, email and we will forward your information to Amanda.

Update 2008

I graduated last August and was honored to receive the Chairman's Award for exemplifying the mission of the PA program in mind, body and spirit of working for underserved population. I spent some time in a private family practice in Mesa, Arizona before moving back to Oklahoma to work for my tribe (Cherokee Nation)  I am presently working in Muskogee, Oklahoma in a tribal clinic practicing primary care. I see kids to seniors  I enjoy being home!

My husband, Dustin, is set to graduate in August.  He has already accepted a job with the Cherokee Nation to start in October. My sister, Candice, is finishing up her 4th of 5 quarters. She is getting close to her clinicals and anticipating her summer break.