What the heck are these guys doing?

Matthew, Weston and Nathan are first year medical students with a passion for community health and biking. Along with Daphne, a first year Veterinary student, the 4 companions will embark on a five-week trip through 1,000 miles of rural Oregon wonder. Along the way they will be working in conjunction with the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians to facilitate community discussions on improving local healthcare options. See our photo album

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Inspiration from Reedsport

View of the Umpqua Jetty

We're in Reedsport, home to the Dunes Family Medicine Clinic and Dr. Robert Law, our gracious host. We're spending three days here and blanketing the community with presentations to seven different community groups! We've already spoken to the local Toastmasters (and yes, we got evaluated just like all of their normal speakers), the Lower Umpqua Economic Development Forum, the weekly hospital MedStaff meeting, and the Hospital Foundation meeting. Tonight we present to the Lions Club, and tomorrow we'll be speaking to the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce.

The presentations have gone well, especially thanks to the Toastmasters for their critiques and suggestions. But what I'd really like to talk about is the inspiring experience of this community. The Reedsport I've gotten to know over the last two days is an incredibly kind and service oriented town. It seems like every person we meet here not only holds down a day job, but has a second volunteer position in the school, at the hospital, or elsewhere. As Dr. Law puts it, everyone in this town wears multiple hats. Reedsport, to us, seems to be an example of a community that works because people are invested in it, invested in making it work, and in changing to keep up with changing social and economic climates. Reedsport is undergoing a massive demographic shift as the mills have closed and logging has dried up. And yet, although the economic climate has gotten worse, people are dedicated to living here and maintaining the lifestyle they love so much.

Presenting to the Coast Toasties
At the end of each presentation we ask the group what "the best thing about living and working" in their community is. Consistently we have heard from folks here that one of Reedsport's strongest aspects is its service ethic. A great example of this is the partnership between the Lower Umpqua Hospital and the local High School. Tara, the Director of Nursing at the hospital, has led the charge to create a series of college credit courses for high school students introducing them to different careers in health care. So far they offer two courses: and introduction to health careers and a medical terminology course. They are hoping soon to offer CNA, First Responder, and medical coder training. The hope is to inspire students to pursue careers in healthcare, and give them immediate skills (like a phlebotomist) that might let them pursue summer employment outside of McDonalds.

Inside the Umpqua Lighthouse
And its not just big organizations like the hospital that have impressed us. A local civic booster, Joe Coyne, has provided us housing during our stay. This isn't something he was pressed into doing by Dr. Law. It's something he does almost every week. As soon as he heard we were coming into town, he got in touch with Dr. Law to volunteer his place.  Last week he hosted a tsunami disaster expert who was in town to work on tsunami preparedness measures. After us he's housing an Oregon Coastal Trail activist while he's in town. It's just something he does because it's good for the community.

And I would be remiss not to mention Dr. Robbie Law himself. He's been in this community for 20 years, still maintains a busy clinic, call schedule and ER coverage. And yet he finds that time to volunteer in the schools, participate in multiple boards throughout town, host 3rd year medical students, and put together all the logistical work for our visit. In a lot of ways I think Dr. Law is perfect for this community -- committed to service and committed to keeping Reedsport an ideal place to raise kids and call home.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You are really "spreading the word". Keep up the good work - we're all cheering for you.