His start came as an emergency medical technician. Here, Salinas got a firsthand look at the essential medical needs of Rio Grande Valley residents.
“There were a lot of things that didn’t add up,” Salinas said of observations he made as an EMT, and then a paramedic, in going into the homes of residents in Hidalgo and Cameron counties. “I thought everyone could get care, but I saw that isn’t always the case.”
An inspiration was sparked to focus on environmental and social factors impacting the quality of health care Valley residents receive. Salinas was moved to serve his community through health care. It led him on a path that would take him to undergraduate and master’s degrees in nursing, then a doctorate. Today, he is a professor, instructing students getting their start in the field.
“I never thought I’d be here,” said Salinas. The Edinburg native grew up in a farmworker family, enduring the sudden death of his father during his teen years. “It goes to show how anything is possible.”
His work is multifaceted. Salinas is on the staff of the UTRGV Student Health Services in helping students with basic care needs. He also offers assistance with mental health issues. Additionally, he is a clinical assistant professor and course coordinator for first-semester nursing students in Edinburg and Brownsville.
There’s a strong community service component to his work as a nurse practitioner. He holds certifications in family care and psychiatric mental health. Salinas has conducted several educational sessions that focus on how environmental issues such as flooding and air and water quality impact the health of Valley residents.
It’s all tied to his belief that there is a need for a holistic approach to improve the overall health and well-being of local residents. Better individual choices and improved working and living conditions will bring significant improvements in overall community health. Salinas’ work in classrooms, medical offices and in the community led the Texas Nurse Practitioners to name him as the 2020 recipient of its . Rising Star Award
“Innovative young nurse practitioners like Aaron are going to be critical in the years ahead as Texas works to provide quality health care to patients across the state,” said TNP President Christy Blanco. “In providing both medical and mental health care to the students, Aaron demonstrates both his dedication and his ability to adapt new tools and approaches to providing them care.”