Student loan repayment recipient provides culturally competent care to Pacific Islander community in Utah

Ema Mounga is a family nurse practitioner at Exodus Healthcare Network and a recipient of the Health Care Workforce Financial Assistance Program. Mounga was inspired to pursue a career in healthcare to help the Pacific Islander community after experiencing a health scare during her son’s birth.

In an effort to bridge communication barriers and serve a diverse patient population where nearly 50% of people are bilingual, Exodus Healthcare piloted an interpretation service. Mounga praised the service as a huge success and hopes it can help build deeper connections with patients. She is bilingual in Tongan and English and serves as a resource for Tongans and Pacific Islanders, but continues to seek out ways to expand her practice and reach additional patient populations. She is currently learning Spanish to support the residents of West Valley and Magna.

“Although I am a family practice practitioner, a good portion of my visits are suboxone patients who suffer from opioid use disorder,” Mounga said. “Our clinic only has 3 providers who can prescribe medication-assisted therapy. Being able to fulfill this need for my community is 1 of the reasons why I love my job. Seeing my patients overcome substance use disorder to live normal lives and keep normal jobs is what makes me enjoy being a provider so much.”

Mounga is grateful to receive financial support from the Health Care Workforce Financial Assistance Program since it enables her to shift her focus from paying off student loans to treating her patients. She tries to involve patients in their care plans and help them set attainable goals. 

Inspired by Mounga’s work, Exodus Healthcare Network has hired an addiction medicine specialist and 2 additional Pacific Islander providers.

Mounga is a doctor of nursing, advanced practice nurse practitioner, and a family nurse practitioner certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Exodus Healthcare Network provides family medicine to residents of West Valley and Magna. For more information, visit

This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $2,378,650, with 45% funded by HRSA/HHS and 55% funded by Utah’s state Legislature. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA/HHS or the U.S. government.