OHWI was created by an initiative from the Governor's Office in 2007 as a public/private partnership to support Oregon's health care industry, education institutions, and government agencies with research, strategic planning and collective impact efforts involving the health care workforce. OHWI joined the Oregon AHEC system in 2013 providing evaluation and technical services before becoming a full AHEC regional center in 2017.
In 2019, OHWI was acquired by Pacific University. Now, OHWI at Pacific University and the OHWI AHEC program continues its mission to advance the development of a high-quality health care workforce in order to improve the health of every Oregonian through collaborative programs, research, and leadership.
Fall 2020 Highlights
In May of this year, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Committee on Student Affairs (COSA) released an official statement regarding concerns for student mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the potential for increases in the risks of suicide and other mental health difficulties among medical students (AAMC COSA, May 2020). Out of concern for students of medicine and allied health disciplines, OHWI AHEC has partnered with the Pacific University community to reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 for Pacific’s health professions students through the development and implementation of two programs focused on suicide prevention and stress reduction and resiliency training.
Through OHWI’s support, Pacific University staff within Student Support Services and the Student Counseling Center have been trained as trainers of the QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) Gatekeeper program for suicide prevention. These certified trainers are now conducting training sessions for faculty, staff, and students in the College of Health Professions and others. Once trained, QPR Gatekeepers are able to recognize a mental health crisis and the warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide and bridge at-risk individuals with available resources for further care.
In addition, OHWI is collaborating with Pacific’s College of Health Professions’ Interprofessional Education faculty on a pilot project aimed at increasing health professions students’ resiliency to stress and burnout through mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). This project will connect students with a certified MBSR practitioner to develop self-care skills that could enhance their health professions educational experience and reduce the risk of burnout and other mental health difficulties as professionals.
AAMC COSA. (May 1, 2020). COVID Statement on Student Mental Health from AAMC COSA Working Group on Medical Student Well-being [Position Statement]. https://www.aamc.org/system/files/2020-05/profdev-affinitiy-groups-gsa-cosa-covid-statement-mental-health-050720.pdf