Getting to know Dr. Huckabee

Michael Huckabee, Ph.D., became director of the physician assistant program in the UNMC School of Allied Health Professions on May 1 after the retirement of longtime director Jim Somers, Ph.D.

Below we get to know more about Dr. Huckabee, who came to UNMC from Union College, where he directed the PA program for 15 years.

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Michael Huckabee, Ph.D.
Describe your research in layman's terms.

First, I'm interested in teaching and measuring cultural competency skills in clinicians. My current research suggests this generation of PA students has a view of culture that focuses on commonalities such that they avoid making important distinctions. My second area of research considers effective leadership skills among clinicians.

Why is this research important?

It's been a slow climb to gain ground on effectively teaching cultural competency that is both relevant and helpful to clinicians in training. It's rewarding to guide students in understanding their own cultural views so that they are then better able to appreciate and work more effectively with those of different cultures. When it comes to providing health care across cultures, it truly means better care.

I have a particular burden to help PAs appreciate the role we play in leading patients to better health care habits. Rather than assuming leadership "just happens," the effectiveness of specific leadership skills makes a significant difference in how our patients respond. Carry these same leadership skills into professional relationships and broader leadership opportunities and we begin to change the course of health care delivery for the better.

What are your goals and vision for the physician assistant program?

UNMC's PA Program has quietly and humbly become one of the premiere educational centers for PAs across the country. My goal is to maintain the integrity of this reputation while sharing the collected wealth of wisdom here to help shape the future of effective health care reform and high quality patient care.

List three things people may not know about you:

  • I have published two novels with a children's story and a third novel in the works.
  • I am not related to the other Mike Huckabee, though I have been able to reach congressional offices pretty quickly when I use my name and occasionally get good restaurant seating.
  • I have a closet filled with Bronze-Age super-hero comics that I prize. My personal favorite is the Silver Surfer of the late 1960s.


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Mark Christiansen
June 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Mike, congratulations on your new role. I wish you well. As a UNMC graduate and former faculty member I am very proud of the program. You are correct in your assessment that the UNMC program is regarded as one of the premier programs in the country. I know it is in good hands with your leadership. Best wishes. Mark Christiansen, PhD, PA-C, Sacramento, CA

Susan Creal
June 27, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Congratulations on your new role at UNMC. I graduated from the PA program in 1985 when Jim Somers was on staff, but not yet director. You have big shoes to fill, but I have no doubt you will be fantastic in this next chapter of your life. I know you from Lincoln Berean where we have chatted on occasion, and your daughter and my daughter, Kelsi, were friends. Kelsi grew up seeing me enjoy my profession that she now is applying to UNMC in the PA program for 2013. What a joy! God Bless You as you help direct the next class of students. Susan Creal, PA-C Lincoln, NE crealptpa@windstream.net