Students from every high school in the county received a crash course in health care job opportunities at the Nov. 14 Rural Health Career and College Day held at Blue Mountain Hospital.

A total of 75 students, mainly freshmen and sophomores, attended the four-hour event from Grant Union, Prairie City, Dayville, Monument and Long Creek, and one student taking online courses also attended.

Breakout sessions were held every 20 minutes with visits to various departments, including nursing, laboratory, emergency medical services, rehabilitation services, pharmacy and more.

Groups also joined maintenance director Steve Hall for information about the many duties and projects his team handles, including operating the boiler, maintaining equipment, troubleshooting breakdowns and coming up with innovative solutions and construction designs for improvements to indoor and outdoor areas of the hospital.

A panel of 11 Blue Mountain Hospital staff members who graduated from Grant County schools spoke about the directions they took that led to their career at the Blue Mountain Hospital District and answered the students’ questions. Some on the panel completed a college or university degree, while some moved into a job at BMH from high school.

Representatives from Central Oregon Community College (Bend), Oregon State University — Cascades (Bend), Blue Mountain Community College (Pendleton) and Eastern Oregon University (La Grande) were also on hand to share their degree offerings in the health care field.

Some high school students taking a college-level health class were able to utilize the event toward their college credit.

“We hope that we made connections between our youth and careers in the health field available here in our community,” said OSU Open Campus Coordinator Didgette McCracken, who organized the event with Blue Mountain Hospital Public Relations Director Jena Knowles.

The organizers said they plan to make the activity an annual event in the fall.

Knowles said it was a great success with a majority of the local health care careers represented.

“One of my favorite parts of the day was listening to the panel of local graduates,” she said. “All their stories about their career paths were so relatable for the students.”

“We are really lucky to have so many health care resources here in our community, and everyone is more than willing to let students pick their brains, job shadow, whatever it takes to help them start thinking about their future,” Knowles said. “I would absolutely encourage students to take advantage of that opportunity.”


Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at or 541-575-0710.

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