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Summer Institute Prepares High School Educators to Teach Health Careers Course

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.

According to Pfaffenbach, the unique institute “creates a bridge between high school and college that isn’t always there.” He said it provides an essential opportunity to coach high school teachers on the critical conversations they should be having with students who are interested in health professions before they embark on their higher education journeys.

Kendall Hayes of Joseph Charter School was among the five new teachers who attended this year’s institute. She plans to offer FHPO during the upcoming school year, and noted that the workshop was well worth her time investment:

“[The training] will not only help my students make better, informed choices about the paths they will be taking after high school, but also help me as their guidance counselor to stay current on what professional schools are really looking for in terms of applicants.”

First-time attendees indicated significant changes in knowledge related to health careers education as a result of the workshop. Here is a snapshot of some of their major takeaways:

FHPO instructors will continue to develop their knowledge as “GO-Healthcare Professionals” PLC (Professional Learning Community members) via several virtual meetings when school is in sesson.

This program has grown exponentially in the last two years. Approximately 160 high school students took the course in 2017-2018, demonstrating that it is filling school districts’ tangible need for quality health CTE curriculum. It serves as just one of the many NEOAHEC initiatives that are helping to advance our mission of “growing our own” healthcare professionals in Eastern Oregon.

FHPO’s carefully designed modules provide a blend of assignments involving independent research and real-world experience, including a four-year degree-planning module. This provides students with a taste of the intricacies involved in college planning. The course’s hallmark is a 12-hour job shadow component that allows students to witness health professionals in action—an assignment that consistently receives top reviews from students.

Emily Sorensen teaches the course at Elgin High School and has called the coursework “fundamental” for students who have a passion for the growing healthcare field. She added, “Armed with the knowledge they gain, students can increase their chances of successfully reaching their goals in this industry while making wise, cost-effective decisions.”

Today, our robust GO-Healthcare Professionals teacher network includes 17 teachers from various high schools throughout Eastern Oregon:

  • Baker High School
  • Burns High School
  • Dayville High School
  • Elgin High School
  • Grant Union Jr./Sr. High School
  • Heppner High School
  • Hood River Valley High School
  • Imbler High School
  • Ione High School
  • Irrigon Jr./Sr. High School
  • Joseph Charter School
  • La Grande High School
  • Mac-Hi (Milton-Freewater)
  • North Powder Charter School
  • The Dalles High School
  • Ukiah High School

NEOAHEC has been overwhelmed by this program’s momentum during the last few years, and looks forward to expanding its reach to even more schools and students in Eastern Oregon. If you are a high school teacher or administrator interested in joining GO-Healthcare Professionals to bring this opportunity to your students, please contact Brittany Hargrove at for more information.