inter-professional Community Health and Education Exchange
iCHEE™, the brain child of Valerie S. Palmer, is an innovative elective in student education while engaging and supporting the community. The program interfaces Portland-resident refugees and other communities with students and faculty mentors from all four OHSU schools. Dental, medicine, nursing and pharmacy students develop multicultural knowledge and cross-professional skills while providing refugees health information, physical check-ups, referrals to low-cost clinics, the Medical Teams International (MTI) Dental van and the Casey Eye Institute (CEI) vision van. Dental and medical students receive 2 credits; nursing students receive credit on other courses and pharmacy students receive "community credit".
This is OHSU's first community-based, interdisciplinary educational program, and the first program aimed at refugees the world over. The goal is to adapt the course to the needs of newly arriving refugee and other underserved groups.
iCHEE provided me with the most valuable interprofessional experience that I have had to date, and presented the experience in such a natural and fluid way that I finally welcomed the prospect of working with other healthcare professionals to achieve optimum patient care. There were no templates to follow, no barriers to restrict, and no limit to the amount of knowledge each interprofessional student involved could exchange with one another during this experience; we met with patient after patient in groups composed of a multitude of healthcare professional students and each got to contribute their unique skill set in evaluating and improving patient quality of life. Simply put, if you are a healthcare professional student longing to simulate working with other healthcare professionals dealing with a variety of patient populations in real time, then iCHEE is an extremely valuable experience."
OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy Student - Class of 2014
"At iCHEE, we disrupted the socially constructed power hierarchy. While not always recognized by the traditional medical establishment, we operated within the framework that the clients are the experts in their lived experiences, their health, and their bodies. When listening to their stories, we were honoring these experiences and hopefully allowing them to access the therapeutic power of talk. However, we were also learning about their culture and their reality, and learning about the diversity of experiences and cultures possible within our city, a specific community, a subset within that community, and even from person to person."
OHSU MD/MPH Candidate, Class of 2017
OHSU MD Graduate/MPH Candidate Class of 2013[MTI's RealLife Exhibit] "It was beautifully made and was just like an exhibit at a museum, but it was very, very saddening. All over, there were drawings and short reflections by children, of what they had just experienced. Some of them drew their experience of a tsunami, and how they had seen their parents disappear before their eyes, while others spoke of being taken into a children's army in Uganda, where they were raped and abused. It was truly heartbreaking. There were some exhibits that I could not step into, and some reflections that I just couldn't read. I had tears in my eyes almost the entire time."
OHSU Dental Student Class of 2016
"What this class turned out to be was a revelation. That is not to say I was unaware of the homeless population in Portland prior to this class, but that I knew it like I know the Eiffel Tower: I know it exists, where it is and what it looks like, but I have never been there, nor really experienced it. Working at Transitions Project, talking with person after person, hearing their stories, connecting with them and learning from them: that truly revealed this population to me, and I experienced it in a way that is not possible with lectures full of pictures and numbers."
OHSU Medical Student Class of 2013
"This class has opened my eyes to the problems people are facing in my own backyard and has reinforced my skills needed to provide assistance to anyone I may come into contact with. I know how to look for and offer valuable resources to those in need, including housing, food, clothing and many different types of health care. I have learned valuable communication skills that will help me with my future career. These communication skills not only taught me how to empathize and listen to people needing assistance in my community, but how to collaborate and communicate with other health care professionals."
"I had a chance to interact with the homeless as people, not problems. Like anyone else, they deserve and want to be respected in life, and if we give them respect they will do the same. It was important to recognize that each person's diverse experiences, values, and beliefs impact how he or she accesses services. Equally important, is recognizing that the cultural values of medical providers and service delivery systems have an effect on how services are delivered and accessed. Knowing this will help health care professionals be more aware of the need to provide access to essential services to this particular population. Needless to say, this class increased my knowledge of the nature and extent of health disparities and health system gaps in my community."
"My overall experience thus far with iCHEE has been phenomenal. It has opened my eyes to the growing medical and dental problems we have in our country, and through working with other disciplines expanded my knowledge of the medical community."
OHSU Dental Student Class of 2013
Student reports from our recently completed Winter 2012 course at MLK Portland Day Labor Center (VOZ)2011 iCHEE student reports
We encourage students and faculty to join the many who have had life changing experiences right here in Portland!Email Valerie Palmer for more details.
Click to view earlier Reflections from the iCHEE™ courses.
The project began in the fall of 2008 at Africa House and continued through the winter quarter before moving to Kateri Park community center for Spring 2009. As of 2014, iCHEE works with 7 various Portland area communities. Directed by Valerie S Palmer, GHC Senior Research Associate, with strong logistic support from Cate Bishop, GHC Coordinator, the planning group brought together faculty and student representatives from the four OHSU schools, with the support of the respective deans, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), Catholic Charities, VOZ MLK Day Labor and Lutheran Community Services.
iCHEE™ comprises an orientation session at Medical Teams International RealLife Exhibit plus five 5-hour Saturday community contacts in Portland with:
- African refugees at IRCO-Africa House;
- Asian immigrants at IRCO-Asian Family Center, & Asian Health & Service Center;
- African, Burmese, Hispanic, African American and European American at Esperanza and Kateri Park Community Center;
- undocumented workers from South America at VOZ Portland Day Labor Center;
- African, Chinese, Eastern Europeans (including Ukrainian, Slovakia, Romanian), Bhutanese, Nepalese, Pakistani, and other communities at the Lutheran Community Center
- underserved populations at Transistions Projects Inc.
Since inception, 258 students have participated in the iCHEE™ program:
- 81 from pharmacy (COP),
- 95 from the nursing school (SON),
- 74 from the school of medicine (SOM),
- 63 from the school of dentistry (S0D),
- 5 from graduate student programs, and
- 12 from the physician assistant program.
The Global Health Center wishes to thank the many volunteer faculty preceptors and community members who have participated in the program. To date, the iCHEE™ program has served approximately 2,000 people, with little or no medical insurance, and referred or provided dental care (in collaboration with MTI's dental van) to more than half of the clients along with eye care supplied by the OHSU Casey Eye Institute's mobile unit.
Goals for the Future
- Provide more opportunities for students and faculty to participate in the iCHEE™ experience;
- Firm-up collaborations with MTI's and CEI's mobile units for site visits;
- Encourage participation of OHSU resident clinics to care for iCHEE™ clients;
- Provide vision screen training and insight on how to handle mental health problems for iCHEE™ students; and
- Provide suitable sustainable methods of information transfer to culturally diverse populations (e.g. through theater/music).
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