Jadon Bachtold ’20 researches how to make healthcare more equitable at Oregon Health Sciences University’s (OHSU) Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN) in Portland, Oregon

Hello! My name is Jadon Bachtold and I am a BBMB major and soon to be Senior. This summer I am working as a research assistant at Oregon Health Sciences University’s (OHSU) Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN) in Portland, Oregon. ORPRN is different from a typical medical research group, because it focusses it research on improving the health or rural Oregonians through research driven interventions in medical practices. ORPRN’s aim is to make health care more equitable by eliminating existing healthcare disparities.

Examples of current projects underway at ORPRN are different primary care improvement interventions, Medicare/Medicaid research on social determinants of health, lotions impact on adult eczema, and initiatives to improve rural vaccination rates and colorectal cancer screening. The scope of these research projects may seem a bit scattered, however, they are all specifically identified by rural healthcare providers as areas in need of research. I fortunately have had the opportunity to serve as a liaison to these rural areas as a “practice facilitator” asking these very questions and implementing previous findings. As a native Oregonian who grew up in rural towns similar to these, it has been incredibly rewarding to work with these communities to improve healthcare outcomes! This has been some of the most rewarding work I have done so far.

Collaborating with fantastic people as a practice facilitator has only taken up a small portion of my time as an intern. As I have learned, public health research is not a straightforward process. Most of a researcher’s time is actually spent in the office, writing.  It takes a tremendous amount of work to fund a project, implement it, and then analyze and distribute the findings (if there even are any). The majority of my work has been in this area, designing projects, writing grants, implementing interventions, analyzing data, and drafting manuscripts.

Outside of my internship, I have really enjoyed living in the “big city” for the first time. I bike commute to and from my job each day. Besides almost being sideswiped by a distracted driver every once in a while, I have enjoyed this new challenge Overall, this opportunity has exposed me to current public health research initiatives and given me a well-rounded view of how scientific research is conducted. I could not be more satisfied with this experience thus far. In my final weeks of work, I am excited to finish up my existing projects and hopefully get one of our papers published in a journal. This has been an amazing experience and I am grateful that the internship grant has made it possible.

Experiences like Jadon Bachtold’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez

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