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Increasing The Psychiatric Mental Health Workforce in Eastern Oregon

On March 1st, Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center (NEOAHEC) was awarded a Healthy Oregon Workforce Training Opportunity (HOWTO) grant of nearly $1 million to increase the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) workforce in eastern Oregon.

The new HOWTO grant program, administered under the direction of the Oregon Health Policy Board in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), selected this project as one of its first awardees.

MedQuest Announces 2019 Staff and Campers

Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center (NEOAHEC) is pleased to announce its staff and camper selections for the 27th Annual MedQuest program, held in La Grande from June 16-21, 2019. This long-running health career exploration camp for high school students engages participants in a variety of unique medical experiences, including individually-tailored job shadows, panel discussions with local providers, tours of medical facilities, and much more...

Learning in Context with Rural & Frontier-Based Interprofessional Education

Many of us recognize that eastern Oregon is a vast and geographically isolated part of the state. Residents actively choose to call our beautiful region home, but sometimes this comes with a small price in terms of accessing healthcare...

Lighting the Fire: Connecting Students and Healthcare Professionals through the EOU Health Speaker Series


“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”–William Butler Yeats.


This quote captures the essence of the Eastern Oregon University (EOU) Health Speaker Series—a collaborative project that aims to do more than simply transfer knowledge; it aims to ignite students’ passions in healthcare.

Organized by NEOAHEC and the EOU Pre-Professional Health Club (PPHC), the Health Speaker Series (HSS) connects students with a variety of mentors by scheduling candid chats with health providers, graduate students, and representatives from health career programs. The presentations are held in EOU’s Huber Auditorium in La Grande once or twice per academic term, with each session featuring a different career theme, such as “Pharmacy Night,” “Physical Therapy Night,” and so on. Speakers relay their educational and career journeys, advice for students considering their career, and thoughts about why it is so valuable to practice in a rural area. Most importantly, they highlight both the positive and negative aspects of their job so students have a realistic picture of each vocation.

Happy National Rural Health Week! NEOAHEC Affirms Commitment to Rural Healthcare Workforce as it Welcomes New Staff Members

NEOAHEC’s team is now more dynamic than ever! In October, we were pleased to welcome Beckie Juarez and Jill Boyd to our group, who will work in tandem to enhance NEOAHEC’s support of the Northeast Oregon Campus for Rural Health (CRH)...

A Passing of the Torch: NEOAHEC Celebrates Retirement of Long-Time Board Members

When people think of Northeast Oregon, they usually conjure up postcard images of mountain views, rolling farmland, tumbleweeds, and snowy winters, but there is something else the region should be known for: its abundance of some of the state’s most selfless public servants. In our 27-year history, Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center (NEOAHEC) has had the privilege of working with dozens of committed volunteers who set aside their busy schedules to grow Northeast Oregon’s healthcare workforce by serving on our Board of Directors.

Among these individuals are retiring members Barb Hosford, Don Benschoter, Bonnie Dittmann, and Bret Uptmor, who each completed the full length of their terms on the board.

Summer Institute Prepares High School Educators to Teach Health Careers Course

August 6th-8th marked NEOAHEC’s Second Annual GO-Healthcare Professionals Summer Institute at Eastern Oregon University, hosted in partnership with EOU, GO-STEM, and InterMountain ESD. Despite its lengthy name, the institute’s purpose is simple: To train regional high school instructors to teach Future Health Professionals of Oregon (FHPO) curriculum in their schools. This exploratory online, dual-credit course is offered through the Eastern Promise early college program at EOU with a goal of exposing high school students to the world of possibilities in the healthcare industry.

Kyle Pfaffenbach, PhD—an assistant professor with EOU’s Physical Activity & Health Department—led the immersive three-day workshop. Dedicating the first two days to onboarding new instructors from La Grande, Joseph, Hood River, The Dalles, and Ione, he oriented them on FHPO’s curriculum and showed them the ins and outs of the intuitive online Canvas platform. On Wednesday, seven returning instructors also joined in the mix for the “All-Teacher” session. This included an overview of the latest curriculum and registration updates, along with a special networking lunch to acquaint newbies and veterans...

NEOAHEC: Moving from Health Career Exploration to Achievement

Guy Laliberté, one of the co-founders of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil, once said, “Life is full of adventure. There's no such thing as a clear pathway.” While NEOAHEC agrees that life is (and should be) filled with adventure and discovery, we are working to prove that effective pathways can be built to aid in success—in our case, to help students move from exploration to achievement in rural healthcare...

MedQuest: It Takes a Village

The application window for Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center’s MedQuest Health Career Exploration Camp is now closed, and camp preparations are in full swing at our organization. As we review this year’s pool of 60 phenomenal applicants and make difficult acceptance decisions, we would like to take some time to thank all of the community partners who make this unique opportunity a reality.

From Branding Iron to Stethoscope: A Rural Success Story

Changing irrigation pipe, bucking bales, mending fences, and lending a hand during the busy calving season…This was the lifestyle that Nick West grew to love during his upbringing on his family’s cattle ranch on the outskirts of Imbler—a quiet agricultural community in Northeast Oregon with a population of roughly 300 residents. As a student, he also immersed himself in the local community through activities like FFA and 8-man football to take in all that the rural area had to offer before graduating from Imbler High School in 2009.