December 2018 Newsletter

Nebraska AHEC Update: The Newsletter of the Nebraska Area Health Education Center Program

Connecting Students to Health Careers, Health Professionals to Communities, and Communities to Better Health.

Nebraska AHEC Scholars Fall Workshop Brings Future Health Care Leaders Together

Scholars GroupNebraska AHEC Scholars participated in the first-ever Fall Scholars Workshop on Saturday, November 3, at Fremont Health, in Fremont, NE.

The Fall Scholars Workshop built upon web-based training and curriculum the students have been completing and focused on the importance of interprofessional collaboration and communication as a means for providing effective patient-centered, team-based health care.  For the Scholars, this was their first in-person training activity and opportunity to meet the peers they will spend the next year and a half with in the program. 

Paul Paulman, MD, professor in the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) Department of Family Medicine and associate dean of clinical skills and quality in the College of Medicine, shared with Scholars the importance of effective communication across different health professions to ensure the best possible health care is provided to patients.  To demonstrate that importance, Scholars participated in an interprofessional teamwork exercise.

Through an in-depth introduction to the evidence-based TeamSTEPPS program, Scholars learned about improving collaboration and communication to optimize performance and improve patient safety among teams of health care professionals. Through these learned skills, Scholars will be enabled to respond quickly and effectively to whatever situations arise in their health profession training or in practice. 

Nebraska’s first interprofessional class of AHEC Scholars includes nursing, physical therapist assistant, and medical laboratory technology students from Northeast Community College in Norfolk and Southeast Community College in Lincoln. 

In the AHEC Scholars Program, a two-year HRSA-required program, students must complete forty hours of instruction focused on topics such as interprofessional practice, behavioral health integration, social determinants of health, cultural competency, and how to navigate and lead in the transforming health care system.  Scholars must also complete forty hours of community-based experiential training each year in rural or urban underserved areas where they can translate the learned information into practice.

This class of future health care leaders will complete the AHEC Scholars Program in 2020 ready to lead in their profession and in improving the health of the state’s rural and urban underserved areas.

Beginning in the 2019 academic year, the AHEC Scholars Program will expand to include students from eligible health profession training programs statewide.  Applications will open in May 2019.  For more information on the Nebraska AHEC Scholars Program, visit the Nebraska AHEC Scholars website.

(Nebraska AHEC Scholars pictured: Bethany Atkins, Amanda Thomas, Hayley Vitosh, Eliza Brooks, Katelyn Cook, Natalie Wingard, and Micaelee Irons. Not pictured are Lakyn McCarter, Erick Rocha, and Angelica Rocha.)

Nebraska AHEC Program Addressing Substance Use Disorders with Supplemental Funding from HRSA

NHA Opioid ToolkitTo address the substance use and opioid use epidemic, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded supplemental funding to AHEC Programs across the country to develop and support health care workforce training activities in each state.   The funding supports training for health profession students and practicing health care providers related to substance use disorder (SUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD) prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

As is often the case in Nebraska, the opportunity to leverage strategic partnerships to support the projects for more significant long-term impact was identified almost immediately.  With the expertise of the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) and the Nebraska Hospital Association (NHA), the Nebraska AHEC Program will work to meet the state’s needs through two projects that will increase knowledge on SUD and OUD for health professions students, frontline health care staff, and health care practitioners.

Northern Nebraska AHEC, in partnership with the NHA, is supporting the development and distribution of the NHA Opioid Toolkit for providers, health care facility administrators, and key stakeholders. 

In January 2018, the NHA formed the Opioid Steering Council – a 16-member body representative of hospitals and health care systems throughout Nebraska –came together to design a reference guide for providers and clinical staff.  The Opioid Toolkit can assist in designing recommendations regarding the appropriate prescribing of opioids to reduce the risk of substance use/misuse disorders, in developing recommendations regarding screening and appropriate treatment for addicted individuals, and to address the public’s expectations regarding opioid use. Northern Nebraska AHEC will leverage their organization’s broad stakeholder network to distribute the toolkit both in hard copy, electronically, and via a web-based continuing education event in 2019.

The second project, coordinated and executed by the Southeast Nebraska AHEC center hosted by Public Health Solutions District Health Department, draws from the expertise of BHECN.  As a part of this project, two innovative web-based modules will be developed to meet the needs of frontline health care staff and clinicians.  The first module will serve to provide more foundational information appropriate for the general public and frontline health care staff including community health workers, medical assistants, public health professionals, or front office staff.  The second module will provide more in-depth information appropriate for clinicians to prevent or address SUD and OUD within their patient population.  The online modules will offer continuing education credits for health care professionals and are slated to be available in the spring of 2019.

While these projects meet Nebraska’s current needs related to substance use and opioid use disorder, they will result in long-lasting tools that will remain beyond the funded project period.

From Central Nebraska AHEC: Monthly Health Career Club Introduces High School Students to Needed Health Professions

CCC StudentsAccording to the Status of Healthcare Workforce Report (2018), south-central Nebraska is experiencing a shortage of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). To drive student interest toward needed health careers in the region, Central Nebraska AHEC hosts Health Career Club (HCC) sessions each month to introduce high schools students to in-demand health careers. The October 2018 session focused on EMT and paramedic fields.

Donald Adams, emergency medicine instructor at Central Community College (CCC), introduced students to frontline emergency medicine by sharing stories of situations he has encountered during his career, and the critical role EMTs and paramedics have in saving the lives of individuals in Nebraska’s rural areas.  To provide students a preview into the nature of the professions, students gained hands-on experience by practicing opening an airway, placing a breathing tube, and providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on adult and infant mannequins.   Finally, Adams provided students information about the educational requirements needed to pursue a career in each field.

Students practicing intubating a mannequinCentral Nebraska AHEC’s HCC introduces students to a variety of health professions, health education opportunities, and career-related activities each month. Currently, more than sixteen area high schools promote HCC opportunities to their students. Through local partnerships with education institutions in the region and health service providers, the club rotates between the tri-cities of Grand Island, Hastings, and Kearney, NE.

As the academic year progresses, students will learn about public health, nursing, and behavioral health careers. 

Students who desire to participate in the HCC must complete and submit the online registration information.  There is a minimal annual membership fee of $20 to participate.

For more information or to get involved, contact Brandon Drozd, Central Nebraska AHEC Coordinator.

(Pictured: Students practicing intubating a mannequin.)

(Pictured: Students listening to Donald Adams, Central Community College instructor.)

From Northern Nebraska AHEC: Northeast Nebraska Partnership Addressing Behavioral Health Workforce Shortage

Northern NetworkIn northeast Nebraska, the mental health provider per population rate is 2,997 to 1. To address the shortage of behavioral health care providers and increase access to care, the Northeast Nebraska Behavioral Health Network has developed a determined and robust network of partners.

In 2013, a Rural Health Network Development Planning grant provided the foundation for multiple organizations to come together to collectively address the need for greater access to behavioral health services in the region. Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing-Northern Division, Midtown Health Center, Region 4 Behavioral Health System, and Northern Nebraska AHEC have worked together since to expand access to services, assist behavioral and mental health professionals with employment placement, and to enhance student training opportunities in the region. 

The Network is making strides in achieving their purpose. There has been a greater emphasis in the region introducing youth to the behavioral health care field and supporting them to pursue such careers.  Additionally, the number of behavioral health training opportunities available for students in the region has increased.  One of the Network’s newest initiatives, allows students to train at Midtown Health Center, the region’s Federally Qualified Health Center, where an integrated care model housing behavioral health care providers and primary care providers in the same location is implemented.

Increasing the behavioral health care workforce in the region requires a long-term and multifaceted approach. Recognizing that, and the value of growing the region’s health workforce from within, the Network will focus on breaking down barriers for the region’s students related to the cost of pursuing the needed education.  In 2019, the Network will develop educational materials for schools, parents, and students addressing student loans, student loan repayment, and other helpful information that will encourage students to pursue their dreams of a career in behavioral health.

Northern Nebraska AHEC has had a long-term commitment to addressing health workforce needs within the region and their strategies parallel the goals of the Network. Due to this, their involvement goes beyond just participation as they also serve as the Network’s fiscal sponsor.

From Nebraska Panhandle AHEC: HEROES Training Prepares Students to Respond to  Emergencies

Panhandle HeroesWhile natural disasters and biological emergencies are rare, being ill-prepared when one strikes can cost lives.

On September 24, 2018, Nebraska Panhandle AHEC, in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center-Western Division (UNMC) and Western Nebraska Community College (WNCC), conducted HEROES training in Scottsbluff, NE for sixty-eight nursing, paramedic, and emergency medical technician students. HEROES is an interdisciplinary approach to biological, chemical, radiological, and natural disaster emergencies.

During the training in the panhandle, students participated in six interactive learning stations: infant and child CPR; high level personal protective equipment for the Ebola virus disease; transport of a highly infectious patient; med sled, splinting and blanket carry; triage basics; and psychological first aid.

Molly Bloodgood, a UNMC BSN student who participated in the training, stated, “this information is beneficial to me as a future health care professional, and to anyone willing to help in an emergency.” Bloodgood who has expressed interest in emergency medicine and critical care currently serves as a certified Wilderness First Responder. For her, HEROES training solidified an interest to learn more about emergency medicine and to get involved in community emergency response.

 “One way to reinforce the need to train for emergencies is to begin with the young citizens in our communities - the students - and offer them training like HEROES.  It allows them to see and learn things they may have never thought about before,” said John Bishop, WNCC Emergency Medical Services Clinical Educational Coordinator.  Bishop believes that if an emergency were to occur, the skills learned in HEROES training will translate into lives saved.

Opportunities such as the annual HEROES training, funded through a University of Nebraska Program grant, meet a critical for emergency preparedness training in the region.

(Pictured: Molly Bloodgood particiapting in the HEROES training.)

From Southeast Nebraska AHEC: Connecting Health Profession Students to Communities

Southeast AHECDuring their time in medical school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), each third-year student completes a six-week family medicine rotation in a rural Nebraska community.  The rotation provides junior students an ‘immersion’ experience in family medicine.  As part of their rural clinical rotation, students must complete a written report about a community health project. During the students’ rural rotations is often where Southeast Nebraska AHEC’s expertise is important. Students are often unfamiliar with the communities in which they are placed, and AHEC can help fill a gap in finding resources and making community connections. Southeast Nebraska AHEC (SE NE AHEC) reaches out to each student during their rotation in the region to help connect them to the community and meaningful opportunities for their community health project.

Joe Novotny, originally from Omaha, recently completed his rural rotation in Syracuse, Nebraska. For his community health project, Joe wanted to align his interests in pediatrics with a need in the community.  SE NE AHEC was able to connect Joe to Little Angles Child Care in Syracuse, NE, where he educated children on the importance of visiting the doctor.  He introduced the kids to some equipment frequently used by doctors, such as an otoscope and stethoscope, and provided the opportunity for them to feel comfortable with the equipment and understand that doctors are there to help them feel better.

Whether you are a health profession student in southeast Nebraska or an organization that would like to work with a student for their community project, reach out to Carmen Chinchilla, SE NE AHEC Program Director.

(Pictured: Joe Novotny with children from Little Angels Child Care.)