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Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center

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2024 MedQuest Wrap-Up

Serving our Community for Thirty Years

NEOAHEC has completed our third and final MedQuest camp for 2024. Juntos MedQuest in The Dalles took place during spring break in March, Frontier MedQuest in Burns was in the beginning of June, and our original Rural MedQuest in La Grande happened at the end of June. We thank everyone in our community for their continued support of NEOAHEC and MedQuest. Without all our partners, we would not have been able to provide 198 job shadows to 66 students across Oregon, plus a total of 14 days of health career exploration. The students served included 48 people from rural backgrounds, 63 from disadvantaged backgrounds, and 27 from underrepresented minorities. We couldn’t be more pleased to be supporting the students in our region who need it the most.

MedQuest is unique because each of the three camps are created specifically for the community that hosts it. Each job shadow, connection with a local organization, and hands-on activity is determined by the type of healthcare facilities and professionals available in the area. Plus, the shadows are tailored to each student based on their preferences. This allows us to ensure that the composition of the camp reflects the diversity of the community it serves.

Over the course of the three camps, students’ confidence in their ability to go into healthcare and their understanding of the day-to-day life of healthcare professionals skyrocketed. Throughout the camp, students were able to have one-on-one experiences with three healthcare providers, to chat with the 8 counselors and 4 community partners between the three camps, and got to meet other professionals around town. A Rural MedQuest camper from Pendleton particularly enjoyed listening to NEOAHEC Student Board Member Kyler Malone speak about his experiences navigating through his education. The student reflected, “it was very helpful and made me feel more confident that I can do it.” Mentorship is built into every activity at MedQuest because we ensure that everything is hosted by people involved in rural healthcare.

All these experiences, but particularly the job shadows, allow campers to see first-hand what it is like in a wide variety of specific healthcare careers. The shadows last for three hours and feature an immense variety of professionals from optometrists to surgeons to veterinarians to EMTs. Each camper went away with a distinct experience, and many of them were surprised with what they learned. A Rural MedQuest camper from Portland commented, “I got to experience an unexpected environment while shadowing in oncology. I was expecting somewhat of a serious and solemn environment, but it was surprisingly very interactive (especially w/ patients) and positive.” Students walked away with a much better understanding of these careers and some even found out they were passionate about things they had never considered.

One of the most loved experiences at MedQuest over the years has been the trip to the fire department for hands-on activities, such as playing Jenga with the jaws of life, tearing a car apart and rescuing a mock patient, and learning how to intubate, perform CPR, and insert an IV. One Frontier MedQuest student from Burns decided to become an EMT because of MedQuest.

After her job shadow, she said “I actually never even considered EMS, but today I got interested. I think it was mostly the people—I got to see behind the scenes: the fun personalities of each EMT as well as their takes on the job. They also were super excited to have me there; that felt good.” The next day, when she got to visit the EMS team at the hospital with the other campers, she said “I got to go on a ride along—probably the best part of the day and the most rewarding thing I’ve done all year.” Life-altering experiences like these are a huge reason why the community is always ready to support NEOAHEC with MedQuest.

During Rural MedQuest, campers got to visit the OHSU School of Nursing Simulation Lab, where several mannikins are used to simulate medical situations in a safe practice environment. Two of these mannikins were purchased by NEOAHEC to advance nursing education in eastern Oregon. Pedi, the high fidelity pediatric mannikin, is the most advanced, and can talk, breathe, bleed, move his head, and even cry. Students were able to take vitals on the mannikins, then saw the control room where OHSU staff create situations for nursing students to practice with.

Every student that attended got to take home their own stethoscope and suturing kits and was taught how to use them. Out of the 66 campers, 21 students specifically mentioned suturing and learning to take vitals as one of the best parts of their day. A Juntos MedQuest student from Hood River said that during these activities she “learned the importance of teamwork when doing vitals.” These souvenirs are one of the finishing touches that make MedQuest such a unique and fulfilling experience.

MedQuest has been a part of the La Grande community for 30 years, and NEOAHEC was excited to host a celebration in honor of this long-standing program. There were about 95 attendees, including the 2024 Rural MedQuest campers and counselors, current and past NEOAHEC board members and staff, local healthcare professionals, and partners from communities across eastern Oregon. Between all the guests, over 3,000 miles were driven to attend this event, and we couldn’t be more excited to have such strong support from our community.

NEOAHEC is proud to have 30 years invested in the development of the eastern Oregon healthcare workforce, and we look forward to continuing to expand this camp within our community to serve our future healthcare professionals for many years to come.

Thank You to our MedQuest Partners!