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Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center

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Campus for Rural Health Community Project

The Campus for Rural Health (CRH) is a program that promotes the vision for interprofessional education at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). The CRH supports students in their rural rotations at campus locations. There are three campuses throughout Oregon: Coos Bay, Klamath Falls, and La Grande/Enterprise. The Eastern Oregon Campus is made up of two locations, for which NEOAHEC provides housing and placement.

OHSU Students completing their rural rotations in NEOAHEC’s region have been participating in our community project regarding adolescent opioid overdose in rural America. Approximately 23 OHSU students have worked on this project, with disciplines including family medicine, family nurse practitioner, physician assistant, and dental students.

The purpose of this project has been to create awareness on the issue of adolescent opioid misuse in Northeastern Oregon and to provide training to the community, particularly the La Grande School District (LGSD) and with Rural MedQuest campers, on the signs of opioid misuse and teach them how to use Naloxone, also known as Narcan, a drug that can treat narcotic overdose. The project began with research on overdose and death rates in rural America and has moved toward providing hands-on training with simulated Narcan and manikins, which gave LGSD employees hands-on practice administering Narcan. Current partners in this project include the LGSD and OHSU School of Nursing, and we are looking to expand this project to other partners in our region.

Jonathan Sisley, a family medicine student and AHEC scholar from Silverton, presented this community project at the 40th annual Oregon Rural Health Conference, held in October of 2023 in Sunriver, Oregon. Most students only spend four weeks in our region, but Jonathan is currently working on a 12-week rotation in Enterprise.

While in Enterprise, Jonathan has enjoyed exploring all that Wallowa County has to offer. He has enjoyed being able to work with a variety of professionals and to learn about “the role of a rural primary care physician from multiple lenses and perspectives.” The poster presentation that Jonathan made for the conference was awarded an honorable mention by the Oregon AHEC Scholars Program (OASP). He chose to present this project because he “wanted to use it as a catalyst to discuss the importance of educating the public on opioid overdose and what role we all play—healthcare professional or otherwise.”

NEOAHEC Education Coordinator Nikkita Titus takes pride in being part of this essential project. “Although we often feel like substance use isn't prevalent in our small communities, it is. The importance of widespread knowledge of the use of opioids and fentanyl in our community, although terrifying, is essential to be able to care for our neighbors. Having the tools and resources available, and the knowledge on how to use them, empowers individuals to take care of a tragic situation when time is of the essence. Helping train community partners on how to administer Narcan to care for an overdose victim has the potential to save a life.”

If you would like to view a copy of the poster, you can find one here.