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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). This innovative “campus” shatters the standard model of a centralized brick-and-mortar learning environment, drawing together graduate students studying a variety of health professions to a dispersed campus that spans multiple hospital and clinical settings throughout northeast Oregon. Beckie and Jill will provide invaluable part-time support by helping rotating students gain a unique appreciation for rural healthcare, along with a vision for interprofessional teamwork as they live and work together in our region.

Beckie joins the CRH as the new Site Coordinator. She looks forward to using her unique and varied background to facilitate students’ community projects, implement the course curriculum, build relationships with clinical partners, and fulfill many other integral duties needed to support the program.

“I’m so excited for the opportunity to work with this incredibly supportive and wonderful team, as well as groups of interprofessional students,” said Beckie.

A southern California native, Beckie holds an undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a master’s in wildlife from South Dakota State University. She also works part-time for the OHSU School of Nursing in La Grande as the Diversity Coordinator for a grant that aims to increase the diversity of the nursing program.

Fun facts:

Beckie spent time researching the cougar population in the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota and has an affinity for reading historical fiction.

“Beckie has exhibited a high level of approachability, along with excellent communication skills, which are such positive and supportive attributes,” said Carla Hagen, Regional Associate Dean of the CRH in northeast Oregon. “These will be so appreciated by both our students and our professional partners.”

Jill joins the CRH as the new Community Liaison. In this integral role, she will work to develop an engaging interprofessional project for student learners that will bring students and regional partners together to impact the health of the community. She hopes to develop a project that provides insight into the issues, concerns, and barriers to care in rural eastern Oregon.

“Since moving to La Grande in 2010, I have come to appreciate the ‘it takes a village’ concept of caring and nurturing for one another on an individual and community level,” explained Jill. “I believe this concept is a major part of overall health and wellness that is not taught in the didactic setting. I hope we can bring each student to understand how communities impact health, and help them find their village to live, learn, and grow.”

Outside of her position with the CRH, Jill has served as a Primary Care Transformation Specialist for the Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc. (GOBHI) and the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization (EOCCO) since 2015. She earned her master’s degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in 2009 and has an impressive portfolio of community-based research. Jill’s wealth of experience also includes former positions with the Oregon Rural Practice-Based Research Network (ORPRN) and the Oregon Health Authority.

Fun facts:

Jill loves hiking and traveling! She has hiked Machu Picchu in Peru and is always looking for a new adventure. In addition, she lived in Thailand in 2005 and credits her passion for rural healthcare to the eye-opening experience.

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.

NEOAHEC Welcomes New Board Members

Celebrate the Power of Rural