Oregon Rural Students Get Hands-On Health Care Experiences During Medstars

07/08/04    Portland, Ore.

Note to editors: There will be good photo opportunities during these sessions: -- Wednesday, July 14, 2 p.m., School of Dentistry, Room 220: students will examine each others’ teeth. -- Friday, July 16, 8 a.m., Casey Eye Institute, sixth floor: Students will get a hands-on surgery experience. Media will be required to wear complete surgical gowns in this area. -- Friday, July 16, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., Respiratory Therapy, OHSU Hospital, Room 8B60: Students will witness a scenario of a respiratory therapist working on a patient from the beginning to the end of the patient’s stay at the hospital.

Nicole Newcomb had a heart defect as a child.

“I remember being rushed to the hospital and dunked in ice water. Yeah. I do remember that,” Newcomb, 16, said.

She eventually came to Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital to repair a vein in her heart. Although it was a traumatic experience, it shaped her future.

“It influenced me to get involved in the medical profession. I want to be a cardiothoracic surgeon -- that’s heart and lungs. I hope to work on adults, not children. I don’t think I could handle seeing a child die. I want to help older patients,” said Newcomb, a senior at Prospect High School in Prospect, Ore.

Araceli Ortiz also has wanted to be a doctor since she was a little girl.

“I want to make a difference in people’s lives. Plus, I know four or five people with cancer, so I have been studying a lot about cancer. Their self-esteem gets really low. I want to tell cancer patients it’s OK and I want to be able to help them,” said Ortiz, 18, who also is a senior. She attends Wilsonville High School.

This month Newcomb and Ortiz will get many chances to see and talk with physician assistant, medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy students. They will experience what researchers, therapists and other health professionals do in their jobs. They and about 40 other high school students from 30 Oregon cities will get hands-on experiences as participants in the OHSU MedStars program from July 14 to July 17 at several locations at OHSU.

The students who are from underserved and rural communities were chosen to be part of this summer program organized by the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). The students are outstanding in their schools and communities. Many volunteer in health care settings and have interests in pursuing a medical or science careers. MedStars 2004 promises to give the teens a behind-the-scenes look at life as a health care professional.

“The program has changed this year to be even more relevant to students who are thinking about a health care career, but who don’t know exactly what they want to do,” said Sandra Richey-Wallace, AHEC information specialist.

For example, a new workbook and journal was developed to help students decide on careers through self-assessment surveys and tips on how to define goals and priorities. The students have been working on the workbooks for several weeks before coming to OHSU.

During the MedStars week the students will examine each other’s teeth at the OHSU School of Dentistry, see a surgery up close at Casey Eye Institute, watch a respiratory therapist in action, hear a research presentation on parasites, perform a hands-on experiment about radiation therapy, and see other real-life experiences throughout OHSU labs, clinics and classrooms. During the week, they will prepare posters on what they have learned during the week and will present the posters on the last day.

“We are very excited about this new direction for MedStars 2004,” said Patricia Petersen, AHEC assistant director. “Recruiting and retaining health care professionals in our rural Oregon communities remains an ongoing focus for the OHSU AHEC Program Office, all five regional AHEC centers and the Office of Rural Health. We hope that MedStars 2004 can be just one incentive to fulfill this need for rural Oregon health care professionals."

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Name City School
Abby Zerger Bend BEND SR HS
Brandy Glenn Bend SUMMIT HS
Audry Van Houweling Bend REDMOND HS
Erin Bradley Boring SANDY UNION HS
Janet Lara Brightwood SANDY UNION HS
Pamela Stafford Cave Junction ILLINOIS VALLEY HS
Kaila Kilgore Condon CONDON HS
Melissa Ernst Coos Bay MARSHFIELD HS
Shelby Hauntz Coos Bay MARSHFIELD HS
Caslin Gilroy Corvallis CRESCENT VALLEY HS
Heather Jennings Corvallis CRESCENT VALLEY HS
Sara Gangstead Culver CULVER HS
Sean Muller Echo ECHO HS
Alyssa Bostian Fossil WHEELER HS
Daniel Basile Heppner HEPPNER HS
Luz Zamarripa Hermiston HERMISTON HS
Denae Micka Joseph JOSEPH HS
Whitney Cummins Klamath Falls KLAMATH UNION HS
Ami Tracy Lakeview LAKEVIEW SR HS
Michelle Watson Lakeview LAKEVIEW SR HS
Sara Myers McMinnville McMINNVILLE HS
Gabriela Lemus Medford PHOENIX HS
Brenda Solis Medford SOUTH MEDFORD HS
Beatriz Montalvo Mt. Angel SILVERTON HS
Alissa Shaw Ontario Homeschool
Marcus Uchida Ontario ONTARIO HS
Nicole Newcomb Prospect PROSPECT SCHOOL
Ashley Perry Redmond REDMOND HS
Danielle DeBose Roseburg ROSEBURG SR HS
Katie Farmer Roseburg ROSEBURG SR HS
Jimmy Zhu Roseburg ROSEBURG SR HS
Catherine Kreutzer Salem BLANCHET CATHOLIC
Candice Merwin Sandy SANDY UNION HS
Brianna Herrington Scappoose SCAPPOOSE HS
Cara Kammerzell Stanfield STANFIELD SECONDARY
Kaylyn Jones Tillamook TILLAMOOK HS
Spencer Ewing Toledo TOLEDO HS
Araceli Ortiz Wilsonville WILSONVILLE HS

There are five AHEC Centers throughout the state:
-- Cascades East AHEC serves Crook, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, South Malheur, Warm Springs and Wasco counties.
-- Northeast Oregon AHEC serving Baker, Gilliam, Grant, North Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler counties.
-- Oregon Pacific AHEC serves Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk, Tillamook and Yamhill counties.
-- AHEC of Southwest Oregon serves Lane, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Coos and Curry counties.
-- AHEC at Clackamas County Public Health Division serves Clackamas County.