George Fox University to Help Form New Mental Health College

Reported by Morgan Stewart

If all goes according to plan, George Fox University (GFU) may be one of the reasons rural Oregon’s healthcare quality and workforce improves in the future.

For years, the Oregon government has been concerned with the shortage of healthcare workers in the state, especially in rural areas such as Roseburg. According to a 2017 legislative report, empty positions include “skilled and experienced nurses, medical technicians, allied health professionals and behavioral health (mental health) professionals.”

To make matters worse, many current healthcare employees are close to retirement age, which means their positions will soon need to be filled. Staffing shortages means lower quality care, longer lines at doctors’ offices and less time with health care professionals.

To combat this issues and develop potential solutions, officials from the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs and the Oregon State Board of Nursing formed The Rural Medical Training Facilities Workgroup. In September 2017, the workgroup announced their top and most ambitious suggestion: building a new allied and mental health college in Roseburg.

Programs will be added to the college curriculum over time, beginning with the careers Oregon needs most desperately. The college is intended only for those seeking advanced bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and PhDs, but will accept transfer students with associate degrees from community colleges such as Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.

As of now, future programs include nursing, physical therapy, radiology, medical/clinical lab technology, licensed clinical psychology and social work. Officials hope that the creation of the college will bring much needed skills and knowledge to the state, which currently lacks opportunities for higher level degrees in these fields.

But what role will GFU play?

After signing a contract with the Oregonians for Rural Health, GFU agreed to provide accreditation, or help certify their programs. In other words, GFU will making sure the new college is held to the appropriate academic standards. GFU will also supply an academic model for running an institution and hiring staff and teachers.

With a background in pro-bono and service-oriented work, as well as being highly regarded statewide in both the medical and healthcare fields, GFU appears to be more than qualified for the job.

Jessica DaughertyComment