OHSU aims to help heal communities from within

Dr. Amanda BrueglOctober 3, 2017

OHSU has become home to the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence (NNACOE). Funded by a five-year $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with significant backing and support from the OHSU School of Medicine Office of the Dean, the program will enhance the pathway for American Indian/Alaska Native students to realize their dream of becoming health professionals.

The OHSU center, with the backing of all 43 Pacific Northwest tribes and in partnership with Portland State University and the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, will focus on the recruitment and retention of American Indian/Alaska Native students in both the M.D. and P.A. programs. The mission of the NNACOE is to engage all health professional training programs to increase the presence of American Indian/Alaska Native students, beginning with outreach efforts as early as middle school, partnering with such existing programs as On Track and BUILD EXITO. The program will also focus on supporting students once they come to OHSU with opportunities to participate in their culture and connect with tribal health experiences.

The NNACOE will focus on training all aspiring health professionals in minority health issues, health equity and social determinants of health. Through the work of the NNACOE, tribal-academic partnerships will be enhanced and expanded in order to meet the research needs of tribal communities.

"American Indian and Alaska Native people face significant health disparities, which is further jeopardized by a shortage of health care professionals who come from these communities," said Erik Brodt, M.D., director, Northwest Native American Center of Excellence, and assistant professor of family medicine, OHSU School of Medicine.  "We aim to change that."

Pictured above: The new Northwest Native American Center of Excellence at OHSU is a pathway program seeking to increase the presence and voice of Native Americans and Alaska Natives in health care. Amanda Bruegl, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine, is among the faculty who will serve as mentors.