In 2015, Oregon Health & Science University launched the Campus for Rural Health in Klamath Falls and Coos Bay with the vision to become a national leader in developing innovative approaches to optimize the health of individuals who reside in rural communities in Oregon and beyond. Since then additional sites have been developed in Curry, Union, and Wallowa counties.
Geographic isolation, high rates of poverty, cultural and social factors, educational hurdles, and other factors create barriers to healthy living and health care access. A shortage of medical professionals compounds these problems. OHSU’s Campus for Rural Health addresses these barriers through four goals:
- Address community-identified needs through partnerships with the community.
- Improve population health of rural communities.
- Foster authentic learning opportunities for interprofessional education for all learners, including learners returning to a Campus for Rural Health site.
- Strengthen the rural health care workforce in Oregon by training learners in rural context of care.
Students live together and work in cohorts under the leadership of community partners, clinicians and OHSU research teams. Studying and working in multi-disciplinary cohorts, students learn to communicate with, care for, and become full advocates for community members. A range of projects provide students with opportunities for clinical rotations and research.
“While working in an urban setting definitely has the advantages of more resources and specialty care, part of what makes rural settings more unique is they often don’t have these advantages. This gives providers the opportunity to be resourceful, and broaden their knowledge of treatments in a way that may not be as necessary in an urban setting.” - OHSU School of Medicine PA Student
Health Profession Students
Research shows us that health profession graduates who complete training in rural areas are more likely to return after post-graduation. Additionally, those who seek out careers in rural health care are drawn to the idea of becoming active, visible members of the community they serve.
The Campus for Rural Health offers a unique way for health profession students to learn about the rural context of care though team-based clinical rotations, immersion in a community-based project and collaborative student housing.
CRH sites offer a wide variety of both core and elective opportunities for medical, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, pharmacy, dental and dietetic human nutrition students. Core and elective courses vary between the sites, based on preceptor availability.
Students at all Campus for Rural Health sites are housed together to promote interprofessional learning and collaboration and encourage students to engage with the communities they serve.
“I really enjoyed working with the pharmacy and physician assistant students. We discussed our day-to-day life in our careers and I developed a better understanding of what each student does. As health care professionals, we have the power to work together and improve people’s quality of life." - OHSU School of Dentistry Student