Growing a new crop of healthcare professionals

Florence | May 26, 2017
Undergrad students dig into rural healthcare

What does gardening have to do with healthcare?

On first blush, maybe not much. But in metaphoric terms, it’s rather fitting.

It was especially so when PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center hosted a visit by the University of Oregon’s first Rural Health Club, a group dedicated to teaching future health professionals and raising awareness about the delivery of healthcare in rural communities.

About 20 undergrad students in the club—many pre-med—took part in the tour in mid March to see and learn firsthand what it means to deliver healthcare in a rural setting. Consider it a part of growing the next crop of medical professionals.

Club president, Sofia Penrose, helped arrange the group’s visit with Rick Yecny, PeaceHealth Peace Harbor chief administrative officer.

Yecny and Michele Diffenderfer, program director of Development, met the club on a Saturday to tour them through the hospital and clinics. They also shared an overview of the healthcare model in the United States and a presentation on PeaceHealth Peace Harbor’s programs and commitment to offer additional services off-campus in order to continue serving community health.

“Healthcare is a vital part of any community, and there are additional nuances within the rural landscape that differentiate the way we serve our patients,” says Yecny. “It’s encouraging to see so many young, bright minds with an interest in this field, and we were happy to host them. They are our future.”

Club students were enthusiastic about the experience.

"Rick and Michele taught us all about the features of the hospital that make it best suited for the population it serves. I was so impressed by the technology the hospital has, but also by the consideration for the patients,” shared Lilli Wheary, Rural Health Club member. “I had never been to a hospital where everyone was so friendly and worked together so well."

Penrose agreed. "The club had such a great time touring PeaceHealth Peace Harbor! I loved learning about how the community and hospital work together to provide such a high quality of care. It was a great first trip for the club."

The group put the proverbial cherry (tomato) on top of their “field” trip in a particularly fitting way—by digging into the Florence Food Share garden—weeding and planting peas.

Fresh foods. Healthy future.