OHSU Nursing student shows off-the-clock heroism

Driving home from the Portland airport one night not long ago, Christina Carmichael, Bachelor of Science with a major in nursing student on the OHSU Monmouth campus, saw something strange on Interstate-5 near Albany.

A flash of pink jacket and then a flip of dark hair popped out from behind an orange construction drum repetitively. Soon she identified it as a woman rocking back and forth.

Carmichael immediately assessed the situation and saw a young woman in need. Two motorists had already pulled over, but Carmichael also wanted to help. First she dialed 9-1-1 and reported the incident and then further assessed the scene for possible danger.

Carmichael credits her nursing education from OHSU Monmouth for training her to assess and safely implement interventions in critical situations.

Carmichael says, “The situation escalated and the woman walked onto the freeway. Headlights in the distance, officers were not going to get to her before the next car came. I had to decide if there was enough time for me to get to her or if I needed to prepare as a first responder.”

Carmichael is currently assigned to clinicals at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in the ICU where she cares for critical patients. “I saw the opportunity and ran to hoist her up and out of the road.”

The woman was in pain and Carmichael knew that she wasn’t happy to be out of harm’s way, but refused to let her hurt herself or passers-by. Carmichael stayed with her until officers arrived.

The young woman, just 18, was not cooperative and yelled, “kill me, kill me, shoot me.” Carmichael reminded the officers that this was likely a mental health issue, a child in need.

Most people are not qualified to step in during situations like these and the best response is to call police. Carmichael had specific training to deal with issues like this.

In this case, Carmichael’s actions likely made the difference between life and death for this young woman.

The original news story can be found on the Register-Guard’s web site. And click here to read more about Christina Carmichael via OHSU’s School of Nursing.



Christi Richardson-Zboralski is the Web and Communications Specialist for the OHSU School of Nursing. She manages the School’s newsletter, maintains the website and manages all social media and communications.

OHSU celebrates Volunteer Week

The word “volunteer” was first used around the year 1600 and comes from the Latin “of one’s free will.” Years later, the state of Tennessee became known as the “Volunteer State,” when – during the Mexican war – a call for 2,800 volunteers brought forth nearly 30,000 men.

Every year, hundreds of Oregonians freely offer up their valuable time and resources to support our patients, staff and students. When we make the call, OHSU volunteers respond.

About 500 active OHSU volunteers average nearly 70,000 hours of service each year, including 14 animal assisted therapy teams (meet one below, who’s been bringing furry joy to OHSU patients for 22 years!).

In honor of Volunteer Week, we’re taking a moment to say thank you and recognize just a handful of the special people who selflessly serve our community.

Volunteer: Lyrrel Lombard

Years of Service: 15

Volunteer Type: Baby Cuddler, OHSU Doernbecher Neonatal Care Center (DNCC).

Every week, Lyrrel Lombard heads for the DNCC, where she volunteers her time assisting NICU staff by holding tiny patients, keeping pacifiers in, amusing babies who are awake or singing them to sleep. A former school counselor, Lyrrel has six grandchildren and a great-grandchild of her own. Although she loves the time she spends with patients, her favorite part is watching families head home with their infants. “Leaving,” she said, “is joyous.”


Volunteer: Bruce Reed

Years of Service: 24

Volunteer Type: Information Desk, OHSU Casey Eye Institute.

Bruce Reed serves at the Casey’s Information Desk, where he gives directions, answers questions and helps patients to their cars. A member of the Elks since 1955, 86-year-old Bruce is passionate about pediatric eye health. His favorite part of his job is seeing lives improved through the work being done at OHSU. “It’s been a great experience working here,” Bruce said. “Great place, great people, great function.” Click here to learn more about how the Elks support OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute.


Volunteer: Huck Finn

Years of Service: 4 (Carol, his pet parent, has volunteered for 22!)

Volunteer Type: Animal Assisted Therapy Cat.

If you spend any time on the 10th floor of OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, you’ll likely run into Huck Finn – a quiet, laid-back cat with a checkered past. Huck loves getting wheeled around, bringing smiles to passing patients, or lying on kids’ beds to be petted. So, with all of that chauffering, can Huck walk? Rest assured, Huck gets his daily exercise from what Carol calls his “wild and crazy period,” about 30 seconds each day. Learn more about Huck here!


Volunteer: Jennifer Thornton

Years of Service: 7

Volunteer Type: Chemo Pal with Children’s Cancer Association. The Chemo Pals program matches adults with kids undergoing cancer treatment.

Jennifer Thornton is one of many OHSU employees, who volunteer as a Chemo Pal mentor. What does Jennifer love best about being a volunteer? “Their smile as soon as you walk into the room is priceless. Chemo Pals can bring so much joy in those difficult times. Kids don’t want to be sick or constantly poked at the doctor’s office, but they can count on us to bring their favorite toys and games to make their day a little better.” Click here to meet more Chemo Pal mentors, and here to learn more about how you can get involved in the program.

Volunteer: Nancy Downie

Years of Service: 4

Volunteer Type: Certified Music Practitioner, sharing the healing power of music on Bone Marrow Transplant, Adult Oncology, Cardiovascular and Orthopedics units.

Since 2011, Nancy has volunteered about 1,250 hours of her time playing the hammered dulcimer and Native American flutes across many OHSU units, as well as in the main entrance lobby during the holidays. “Something special happens just about every day,” Nancy said. Over the years, Nancy has collected a great deal of memorable moments, including meeting an elderly woman whose sister only had a few hours to live. She returned to Nancy a few minutes later to tell her, “Thank you. Your music made me feel better.”


Volunteer: Patricia O’Shea

Years of Service: 5

Volunteer Type: Brain Resource Center and BRAINet, OHSU Brain Institute.

Patricia helps maintain the library of resources available to patients with neurological disorders. “It’s a very exciting time in brain development research. There are incredible advancements that have been made in imaging techniques and other research that informs the development of targeted therapies. Researchers are chipping away at finding the underlying causes of various brain disorders. People should feel very hopeful.” Click here to learn more about Patricia and additional opportunities to volunteer with the OHSU Brain Institute.

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer at OHSU? Visit us here for more information on how to apply.
Jessica Columbo is OHSU’s Social Media Manager. She can be reached at socialmedia@ohsu.edu. You can also join the conversation on Facebook or follow OHSU on Twitter and Instagram.

OHSU celebrates National Doctors Day

In celebration of March 30th as National Doctors Day, we sat down with OHSU’s Dr. Nate Selden to ask what inspired him to become a physician – and what continues to inspire him in his day-to-day life as the Chair of Pediatric Neurosurgery at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Director of OHSU’s Neurological Surgery Residency Program.

Below, find an excerpt of Dr. Selden’s post, originally published on our Doernbecher “Healthy Families” blog.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job comes in two parts. One is to see a patient back in my clinic after a challenging operation with a great outcomeWhen I can reassure parents that the prognosis is good, I see the strain and worry lift from their shoulders. And I see that the children, especially the younger ones, are simply their resilient selves, blissfully unaware of how serious their condition was. The second part is to share that experience with the resident trainees who care for children with me. Their wonder and deep satisfaction as they experience these successes for the first time are palpable. Occasionally, we inspire one of them to pursue pediatric neurosurgery, and that is a terrific endorsement of the work we do at Doernbecher.

What advice would you give aspiring physicians? 

Spend time with practicing physicians and surgeons to see what their day-to-day life is really like. Make sure you enjoy the rhythms of a normal medical routine and not just the idea of being a doctor. Medicine is a labor of love that requires diligence and resilience. If you have a passion for the work, it is its own reward.

If you would like to leave a message of thanks for an OHSU doctor, visit our Facebook page or consider giving back in your doctor’s name here.


Jessica Columbo is OHSU’s Social Media Manager. She can be reached at socialmedia@ohsu.edu. You can also join the conversation on Facebook or follow OHSU on Twitter and Instagram.

Join us for Nicholas Kristof’s “Pathways to Becoming a Global Citizen”

We are very pleased that New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, is the speaker for the Fifth Annual Kathryn Robertson Memorial Lecture. The title of Mr. Kristof’s talk is Pathways to Becoming a Global Citizen.

Mr. Kristof has received the Pulitzer Prize twice, once for his coverage of Tiananmen Square and again for his coverage of Darfur genocide.

The lecture is free and open to the public and will be follow by a reception and book signing.

Mr. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn are co-authors of “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” and “The Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity.”

Please join us in the OHSU Auditorium on our Marquam Hill Campus Monday, April 20th at Noon. For more details, click here.


Dr. Andy Harris is the Interim Director of OHSU’s Global Health Center. Dr. Harris won a 2011 Purpose Prize Fellow Award in recognition of  “extraordinary achievement and continued compelling work” in founding and directing Professionals’ Training in Global Health (PTGH).

March Round-up: Brain Awareness Season and Doernbecher’s “Brave Bots”

Each month, OHSU faculty, staff and students publish exciting new research, academic advice and health stories across the blogosphere. In case you missed them, here is a round-up of some of our top blog posts of the month:

How hard could it be? OHSU School of Medicine student and mom to a toddler, Megan Thruston, shares her study habit secrets and parenting adventures – with a good dose of humor.

Wearing a properly fitted helmet every time you ride your bike reduces the chance of a traumatic brain injury by 88%! Marianne Bridwell-Chapman of the OHSU Doernbecher Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center explains how to find the right fit – and why setting an example for your child is so critical.

Brain Awareness Season is upon us! The OHSU Brain Institute’s Bobby Heagerty provides a guide to upcoming lectures and events.

Doernbecher’s new “Brave Bot” mural is helping kids (and grown-ups!) be brave when facing serious medical challenges. Learn how the Brave Bots got started and why Nurse Manager Laura Nibert feels so strongly about empowering patients via the art installation

On March 9, Christof Koch, Ph.D. of The Allen Institute for Brain Science spoke at the Newmark Theatre as part of our 2015 Brain Awareness Lecture Series. Read a brief summary of his enlightening presentation.

Studies indicate that the Spring time change can be associated with disrupted sleep and even a suggestion of increased heart attacks soon after. Dr. Gopal Allada shares his tips to make the transition a bit easier.



Jessica Columbo is OHSU’s Social Media Manager. She can be reached at socialmedia@ohsu.edu. You can also join the conversation on Facebook or follow OHSU on Twitter and Instagram.

Bite into a healthy lifestyle

Happy National Nutrition Month! Every March we get an entire month to think about and celebrate the food we eat and the choices we make to get and stay healthy.

This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” which encourages everyone to make healthy and informed food and physical activity choices every day in order to live the healthiest life possible.

We all know by now the importance of following a healthy lifestyle, but the real issue is how to realistically achieve this day after day. One of the most basic changes is to start preparing meals at home.

Even if you aren’t a gourmet cook, home-cooked foods will almost always be healthier (read: lower in fat, sugar, and calories and higher in fiber and nutrients) than those served away from home at restaurants.

The New York Times recently ran a story that examined what 2000 calories looks like at various restaurants versus at home, and the visual images of how to obtain a day’s worth of calories is striking. The amount of food you get from the home-cooked meals truly looks like it would carry you through a full day compared to the same amount of calories at any restaurant, which often provide a full day’s worth of calories at only one meal.

The takeaway message is that cooking at home will certainly help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, with the added benefits of being more filling, more delicious, more nutritious, and more affordable.

This Nutrition Month, I encourage you to cook at home more often as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re a regular cook, explore some new Mediterranean diet recipes or commit to cooking every day this month.

If you’re a novice, set aside one day a week that you can learn some basics (check out these cool infographics on food and cooking for inspiration) or sign up for a cooking class; stay tuned for heart-healthy cooking demonstrations to be offered at OHSU’s Center for Health & Healing.

You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment after creating your own healthy meals, and it will be healthier, and hopefully tastier, than take-out!


Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.

Your health questions answered: What can I do about high cholesterol?

You ask. OHSU health experts answer. This month, one of our cardiovascular experts is on the hot seat.

Q. I eat healthy, exercise and am not overweight – but I have high cholesterol. What can I do?

A. Average low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol is below 125; when it is above 160, you may have been born with high cholesterol. Talk to your primary care provider. You may have a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). People with FH cannot remove low-density LDL cholesterol from their blood, and thus have high levels. The most important thing you should do if you have FH is to scrupulously follow a healthy lifestyle:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat right.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Keep your weight within a normal range.

If your cholesterol remains high, you may eventually need a statin, a medication that’s very effective in lowering cholesterol. There are also options if you cannot tolerate statins.

For more information, contact the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute’s Heart Disease Prevention Program.


Dr. Sergio Fazio is Director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology, where he works to prevent and reverse heart disease through personalized care and research innovation. U.S. News & World Report rank the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute as the top cardiology and heart surgery hospital in Oregon.

Tackling childhood obesity in rural Oregon

To counter the alarming growth in childhood obesity across the country, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently announced $500 million additional dollars to its longstanding campaign to achieve a healthy weight for all children.

These new funds bring the total to an unprecedented $1 billion since 2007 to build a culture of health across communities in the U.S. and ensure that all children have access to healthier foods and opportunities to be physically active.

But because children in rural America suffer from obesity at rates that far exceed their urban peers, solutions that fit rural communities are especially needed because rural communities and families face unique challenges, such as limited health promotion resources.

In rural Union County, Oregon, healthcare professionals, educators, parents, grandparents, youth, and other community members have teamed up with OHSU’s School of Nursing to tackle the problem of obesity in kids and adolescents.

The partnership is part of a study named Students Now Advocating to Create (Healthy Snacking) Zones — SNACZ, a program that prepares youth to become advocates promoting healthy snacking among their peers and in their schools and communities. Funding support for the SNACZ project is being provided by an Agricultural & Food Research Initiative Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture.

An example of the power of this partnership is the success of a recent community educational event, Fuel Your Body to Win. Designed to counteract media messages often associated with sports that encourage high-sugar/high-fat snacks and beverages, this event brought together top athletic trainers from Oregon State University, Eastern Oregon University coaches, and OHSU scientists for a workshop on the importance of healthy eating for optimal sports performance.

During this two-day event, students from middle schools across Union County attended keynote presentations by well-known athletic stars, participated in “myth-buster stations” and break-out sessions with keynote speakers, assessed their nutrition knowledge and habits through interactive exhibits, and signed a Fuel Your Body to Win banner to commit to healthier food choices.

Childhood obesity is a critical and complex public health problem – but it’s a problem that can be solved.

The OHSU School of Nursing and its partners in Union County are leading the way in showing how communities can come together to build a culture of health and ensure that all children – especially those in rural areas of Oregon – can grow up at a healthy weight.


Nancy Findholt, PhD, RN is an associate professor with the OHSU School of Nursing, La Grande campus and coordinates the Union County SNACZ project.

The magic bullet for heart health?

If you knew there was a “magic bullet” that would reduce your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by 92% and lower your risk of other cardiovascular risk factors, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, by 66%, would you take it?

A recent large, prospective study showed what appears to be the key to drastically reducing the risk for heart disease in women aged 27-44, potentially preventing more than 70% of CHD and almost half of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol diagnoses in this group.

What is this revolutionary new recommendation, you ask? A healthy lifestyle. Specifically, the following six healthy lifestyle habits, which, when followed together, slashed the risk factors and incidence of heart disease in young women:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Get at least 2.5 hours of physical activity every week (that’s only 30 minutes 5 days a week – you can do that!)
  • Eat a healthy diet (try a Mediterranean or DASH plan)
  • Maintain a healthy weight (to calculate your BMI, go here)
  • Watch less than 7 hours of TV per week
  • Drink alcohol in moderation (one drink a day for women, two a day for men)

Not exactly groundbreaking, and maybe not even front-page news, but the message is clear – you hold the power to prevent heart disease. The choices you make every day are what will keep you healthy—we already have the magic bullet!

The not-so-good news is that only about 5% of the 88,940 women monitored in the study followed all six healthy lifestyle habits consistently. But committing to some or even one of these habits proved to be beneficial!

While this study looked at young women, these healthy lifestyle habits work for men and women of all ages. In the spirit of American Heart Month, commit to being part of the small (but growing!) group of people following all six pieces of the heart-healthy puzzle.

Need help getting started? Check out the Million Hearts Initiative for information about preventing heart disease and stroke, heart-healthy recipes, and 28-day meal plans.

What change will you adopt this month to protect your heart?


Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.

Student perspective: OHSU School of Dentistry

Since 1899, the OHSU School of Dentistry has produced Dentists, Dental Specialists, and Dental Hygienists, as well as participating in research, patient care, outreach and community service throughout the region. This month, we hear from Farielle Houran, who is nearing the end of her four-year D.M.D student journey. 

How did you pick Dentistry?

I grew up in southwest Portland, graduating from Beaverton High School, and then Pacific University with a bachelor of science in biology, and a minor in Spanish.

Through a string of events and excellent mentorship throughout my years at Pacific, it was clear to me that God had put me on the journey to dentistry. I had no dental insurance growing up, so by the time I was in my teens, I had a lot of cavities, a tooth that needed a root canal, and a chipped central incisor. At an early age, I learned what it was like to be embarrassed of your teeth and in dental pain.

Luckily, I had an awesome dentist who took care of my dental problems, and put the idea of dentistry in my mind. After that, I spent time observing a dental hygienist and dentist when I was in high school. I got bored observing the hygienist, but loved the teaching aspect of dentistry, being able to help people smile, and the dental tools looked fun!  I also appreciate that as a dental professional, I am privileged with the opportunity to influence my community in a positive way.

Why did you choose OHSU?

The primary reason I chose OHSU is that it is in Oregon. The last four years have been the hardest years in my life so far, but a highlight is being able to learn dentistry with a group of 75 students, as well as mentored by some outstanding instructors. I love seeing my classmates interact with and treat their patients. I’ve learned so much from them, and that’s one of the many things I’m going to miss about being a student at OHSU after graduation.

What programs have you been involved with as an OHSU student?

I am the chief scheduler for dental students volunteering on four Medical Teams International vans, which the dental school utilizes monthly for care in low-income Portland neighborhoods. About 40 children per month receive oral care, thanks to these vans. We see a number of oral problems in the children who come to the vans. It’s not uncommon to hear dental students rave about the pediatric dental experience they have when volunteering on the vans.

I also created the Reach Out and Read program, which provides books and readers to dental school pediatric patients in the waiting areas. Other organizations I volunteer for include Give Kids a Smile, Sealant Day, and Celebration of Smiles.

Highlights of my four years include being a member and President of the Hispanic Student Dental Association. I was able to organize an annual school wide screening/fluoride application day at Cornelius elementary, a predominately Hispanic speaking k-5 school that I work at during undergrad.

I’ve also discovered the incredible opportunity to offer the skills that we’re taught in dental school in different countries, while being exposed to different cultures! In the last year and half, I’ve served on two dental humanitarian trips, traveling to Barron, Mexico in 2013, and Ecuador in 2014.

What are your plans for the future?

After graduation, I hope to advance further in pediatric dentistry, and ultimately work as an associate in a pediatric dentistry practice with a Spanish- speaking clientele. I love learning, and in dentistry, you’re constantly learning. Placing a child into the mix makes the profession that much more challenging, rewarding, and fun.

People are often surprised when I tell them I’m interested in pediatric dentistry, but I’ve always known that I wanted to work with children. I can’t look at a child and not smile. I love the aspect of preventative care in pediatric dentistry, and being able to start early in educating children about healthy oral habits.


For more from our students, be sure to visit our Student Speak blog.

Why 96,000 Square Miles?

OHSU Health Fair at Pioneer Square.

President Robertson is fond of saying that OHSU has a 96,000 square mile campus, serving Oregonians “from Enterprise to Coos Bay, from Portland to Klamath Falls.”

This blog aims to highlight that breadth. 96,000 Square Miles (96K for short) will focus on the people of OHSU, the Oregonians we serve and the ripple effect of our work in Oregon and beyond.

Read more

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