Contact: Thomas Hottman
The concept of a rural Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) campus located in Klamath Falls is moving closer to a reality, with the selection of a local professional to serve as dean. OHSU has appointed Joyce Hollander-Rodriguez as regional associate dean of rural health for the OHSU's Klamath Falls based rural campus, slated to be the "hub" for rural medicine. The campus is one of two pilot sites in Oregon to promote the collaborative learning model, which also promotes a better of understanding of rural health needs and provides a network for students within inter-professional medical fields, according to Hollander-Rodriguez. "Their campus is their whole community," Hollander-Rodriguez said on Monday.
Coos Bay will also serve as a pilot site for the campus model in September.
"I'm excited to have it come to fruition," she said of the rural campus. "I think this can only be good for Klamath Falls, and for rural Oregon."
Hollander-Rodriguez is an assistant professor of family medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine, and residency program director for the OHSU Cascades East Family Medicine Residency Program in Klamath Falls. She earned her medical degree in 2000 and completed her residency in Klamath Falls.
Hollander-Rodriguez will oversee students enrolled in the rural campus, the first of whom are scheduled to arrive in Klamath Falls this fall.
She is also joined by a team of local professionals to help move the program along: Rural Campus Coordinator Jennifer Volpi and Education Director Kristi Coleman. Hollander-Rodriguez, Volpi, and Coleman will all be based at Cascades East in Klamath Falls. The goal is to develop part of the Martha Anne Dow Center for Health Professions at Oregon Tech to be used for the program at some point in the future, according Hollander-Rodriguez.
Focus on rural health
Between five and seven students pursuing careers in the fields of physician's assistant, medical, pharmacy, and dentistry fields, among others, will start in the rural health program on Sept. 28, Hollander-Rodriguez said.
Cascades East will serve as a place for students to meet as a group, but students conduct their clinical rotations at a variety of sites around the Klamath Basin in an atmosphere that promotes working alongside students in a variety of disciplines, according to Hollander-Rodriguez.
She emphasized that part of the program involves an emphasis on understanding the health care provider's unique role in rural communities.
If students eventually practice in rural areas, she said students are more likely to encounter factors such as scarce resources, a need to be more flexible and comprehensive with care, and they'll likely need to feel integrated within the community. OHSU's rural campus aims to prepare students with the necessary tools to help students succeed in a rural environment.
"The more we talk about that," Hollander-Rodriguez said, "the more likely they are going to feel comfortable practicing in a rural community in the future."
Housing will be needed
One of the next steps is trying to secure housing for students, and a continuing effort to create upper level living spaces in downtown Klamath Falls may help.
"It's such a wonderful way to be apart of rejuvenating downtown," she said.
OHSU first announced the program to the community in November 2013. OHSU received a $50,000 planning grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to help fund the rural program.
"Wherever our learners (students) end up practicing, we're going to create a better experience for rural people," Hollander-Rodriguez said.
Click here for more information on Cascades East Family Medicine.