Some of you may or may not know, but I am a nurse (staff) at the Southwest Community Health Center, a clinic for the uninsured. When I was hired at SWCHC, the fact that I am an OHSU graduate was important to the clinic. I work with many of the OHSU Medical Students in this environment and see attending physicians and resident physicians offering some very impactful learning to students. I love my work and just being able to reassure a patient that they are able to get direly needed services, treatment and ongoing care in turn helps me to come to terms with the current state of health care. In addition, I leave work knowing that I am in some small way, helping others. The environment I work in is also key in helping me learn about primary care in the urbanized setting. After I graduate, I hope to continue to work for the underserved, but as a Nurse Practitioner.

Students learn about the hurdles that underserved populations must tackle during the poverty simulation in class.

I have been fortunate to have some excellent foundations in nursing, thanks to the OHSU School of Nursing. In the undergraduate curriculum, I attended an interactive “poverty simulation” organized by Launa Rae Mathews. I continue to volunteer as possible to help with this simulation, as I believe simulation environments offer students vital learning in which they can practice and develop their skills before encountering real live patients. I still remember the day that I showed in Launa Rae’s office during my Freshman year, wondering about placements. Her list of placements was pages long! I also worked in the simulations lab during my senior year. Jesika Gavilanes and Mary Anna Gordon offer students encouragement and inspiration. Both leaders are so positive and supportive of nursing students. OHSU has also given me varied learning in many different environments. I fondly remember a clinical placement in pediatrics at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, assessing elders in a nursing home, reassuring medical/surgical patients who had received much-needed transplants and teaching smoking cessation and nutrition. I also had a very fulfilling placement at an elder home for the Russian community. Since I speak some Russian, I was able to create a Russian poster for them about coping with grief and available community resources. OHSU also offers many opportunities for students to take classes with other disciplines. I took part in a wonderful course in 2010, called “Health and Illness in Context,” offered through the Global Health Center at OHSU (the course is listed on their website) with medical students. I encourage students to take part in this course, because it delves into services for those in treatment and for the homeless. It is important that providers understand resources and volunteer in or somehow help fund those resources.

I am enthusiastic about our state and our school.  I see OHSU medical student Richard Bruno advocating for universal health care and my spirits are lifted. Melissa Ozmore is leading our OHSU Student Nurses’ Association and representing our School of Nursing in Pittsburgh this Spring with a national resolution. Her resolution highlights the struggles many face in our country’s prison system. The need for assessment and treatment for substance use is an important break in the linkages that lead to substance dependence. Melissa’s background and passion for nursing inspires me. We have strong advocates at OHSU and I am fortunate to be blessed with such a positive, inspiring and learning-centric environment!