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Idaho State University Announces Partnership with Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center

June 5, 2023

Idaho State University will soon bring much-needed health care training and care to rural southern Oregon, thanks to a partnership with the Umpqua Valley Development Corporation in Roseburg, Oregon. 

The agreement brings together local and regional community leaders, health care facilities and Idaho State University to create a proposed Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center.

The goal is to train health care professionals in fields where there is a critical need. Of the 36 counties in Oregon, 26 are fully or partially designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) by the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration, and 24 of those counties are in rural areas. Nationwide, and especially in Idaho and Oregon, rural communities bear the brunt of health care worker shortages, as many health care workers tend to stay and practice near where they train. 

“We are excited to provide much-needed health care education and training opportunities to rural Oregon. This opportunity showcases ISU's dedication to the health of our communities,” said Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee. 

Idaho State University has already created models for helping fill rural health care workforce needs. Idaho State University’s pharmacy program in Anchorage, Alaska, for example, partners with the University of Alaska Anchorage to fill workforce gaps. In Idaho, Bengal Pharmacy trains students and provides pharmaceutical care at clinics in Challis and Arco, reducing the need for residents to travel to receive basic health care. 

“We partner with communities to bring health professions education where it’s needed most- where the gap is large,” said Rex Force, Idaho State University’s vice president for health sciences. 

The project is still in the planning stages, Force said, but Idaho State plans to bring training in a wide variety of fields, from physician assistant and nurse practitioner training to mental health care and medical laboratory science. The first programs could be available beginning in Fall 2024. 

“Our goal is to work with community colleges and partners to create pathways to our programs,” Force said.

“Health care is in crisis mode in many rural communities like ours. We simply cannot find qualified and trained staff to care for patients,” said Kelly Morgan, recently retired CEO of CHI Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg and Vice Chair of the Umpqua Valley Development Corporation. “This project and these partnerships will give us the ability to train and maintain a health care workforce right here in Douglas County.” 

The Oregon Legislature approved $5 million in general fund dollars in 2022 for launching the Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center. 

“This is an investment in both our health care and in our workforce,” said Steve Loosely, president of the Umpqua Valley Development Corporation. “The vision from the beginning has been to address the lack of health care providers by creating opportunities for Southern Oregon residents to pursue rewarding careers in the medical field. Partnering with the highly respected Idaho State University program will provide high-caliber education and training.”


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