Celebrating a decade of medical education in Springfield and Eugene

By Suzi Steffen
Spring 2017 Bridges magazine
May 23, 2017
Photo credit: Amiran White


Dr. Katelyn Clark (left), alumna and Eugene surgeon with NW Surgical Specialists, rotated at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center as an OHSU medical student. Today, she pays it forward, precepting current M.D. students Ellen McCleery (center) and Jasper Bash (right) as volunteer faculty at the PeaceHealth Center for Medical Education & Research.

Sam Warn stands in a pediatric room at Springfield’s PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend while a physician speaks with a young woman and her parents. Warn is a second-year M.D. student in the OHSU School of Medicine, and it’s early in his second week of a clerkship at RiverBend. He’s tired and missing his fiancée in Portland.

But Warn is also thrilled. He is one of a number of M.D. and P.A. students who will participate in clinical clerkships in the Eugene area this year.

The PeaceHealth Center for Medical Education & Research recently turned 10 years old, marking a successful affiliation with the OHSU School of Medicine. And it’s roaring ahead with more than 150 clerkships planned this year. Students work with Eugene and Springfield’s physicians in everything from core areas such as family medicine and surgery to electives such as infectious diseases and sports medicine.

“It’s so different,” Warn said, “because you’re directly with the attending, and that’s just fantastic.”

That direct interaction is something that CMER Director Christine Traver and Medical Director Gary Halvorson, M.D., value as well. They say that students who come through the PeaceHealth system get far more time with an attending than they would in other clinical settings, where medical students are learning next to interns and residents.

CMER began “with a handshake deal” between PeaceHealth and OHSU leaders in 2007. The School of Medicine wanted to expand the size of its medical classes to help address the physician shortage, but that was partly limited by Portland area hospitals’ ability to precept M.D. students.

The school has another important motivation. “The vast majority of physicians practice not in the tertiary and quaternary environment of an academic health center but in a community, so it’s vital that students experience those outpatient settings,” said Tracy Bumsted, M.D., M.P.H.,associate dean for undergraduate medical education, OHSU School of Medicine.

More than 40 physicians at Sacred Heart volunteered their time after the initial call, and now the program has placed students with more than 200 providers affiliated with Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Dr. Halvorson has seen firsthand how influential the Springfield and Eugene clerkships can be, helping students pinpoint their passion and where they want to practice.

“If you get students out there, you have a good chance of recruiting them back into the community,” added Dr. Bumsted.

That was true for Katelyn Clark, M.D. ’11 R ’16, who came to RiverBend for several clerkships as a student. She was deadset against surgery before she experienced it at RiverBend and discovered that – actually – she loved it. Dr. Clark completed her surgical residency at OHSU, all the while staying in touch with her PeaceHealth preceptor, David DeHaas, M.D., F.A.C.S. Now she’s back in the Eugene/Springfield area, working with Dr. DeHaas and other surgeons at Northwest Surgical Specialists and teaching OHSU students.

In fact, seven M.D. and eight P.A. graduates have begun practice in the Eugene area in the last few years, largely due to CMER.

Even Lane County’s medical examiner wants in on training and working with students. Traver gets calls at 7:30 a.m. when the office has a particularly interesting death. “The students report back to us that assisting in an autopsy was an excellent educational experience,” she said.

“Without question, our collaboration with PeaceHealth is a success,” said Dr. Bumsted. “It’s a model for how we create educational affiliations around the state.”


Bash and Dr. Clark confer with Dr. David DeHaas, a fellow surgeon with NW Surgical Specialists and the center’s surgery course director.


Dr. Clark rounds with Bash and McCleery.