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Idaho Virtual Health Care Education Resource Celebrates 500 Sessions

October 19, 2022

BOISE, Idaho — Project ECHO Idaho, a virtual continuing education resource for Idaho’s healthcare workforce, will reach its 500th session today, educating 3,542 health care workers since 2018.

ECHO Idaho addresses urgent healthcare needs by connecting specialists with local health care providers online for learning and support using presentations and individual medical cases as lessons. Each hour-long ECHO session is meant to help healthcare professionals gain the expertise required to meet the needs of their patients. Select sessions are open to media with advance notice.

ECHO Idaho is supported by the Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program. The vast majority — 90% — of program participants live or work in Idaho.

The milestone was recognized Wednesday, Oct. 19, in the Behavioral Health in Primary Care series, one of eight active series that ECHO Idaho offers. 

Health care professionals — especially in rural or underserved areas of Idaho — can enhance their skills by engaging with subject matter experts and specialists across the state in regular, real-time collaborative sessions. ECHO Idaho sessions also provide an opportunity for interdisciplinary health care professionals to claim free, continuing education credits, which are required to maintain licensure.

Behavioral Health in Primary Care, launched in 2018, is one of ECHO Idaho’s longest running and most popular series. More than 1,000 Idaho health care workers learned or refined a wide variety of skills such as addressing trauma in a primary care setting, tapering benzodiazepines, screening for anxiety, spirituality and mental health, assessment and pharmacology of adult ADHD, and infant and toddler mental health. Participants in this four-year series have claimed 4,410 hours of continuing education.

ECHO Idaho helps expand access to medical and behavioral health education across Idaho, which is 100% designated as a Mental Health Shortage Area by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

“All communities in the state are underserved when it comes to professional mental health support,” said Shannon McDowell, an ECHO Idaho program manager and the facilitator for Behavioral Health in Primary Care.” ECHO’s role here is to help upskill primary care physicians in behavioral health illness so that when a patient sees a PCP, that doctor might be more aware of warning signs and treatment options.”

Along with expanded skills and free continuing education credits, reoccurring participants can also develop a professional in-state network they can trust.

“I can’t understate what ECHO means to me,” said Debra Mueller, a licensed clinical social worker in Boise. “These sessions provide me with a community of knowledge and clinical support. In that way, I’m taking an hour and providing self-care through professional development. How profound is that? I think it benefits client care exponentially.”

Mark Worthen, a Pocatello psychologist, agrees. “Idaho’s Project ECHO team demonstrates superior organization, effective communication and strong attention to detail,” he said. “I frequently apply what I learn from my colleagues in ECHO to provide more effective care to my patients.”

ECHO Idaho currently offers free education series focused on the following healthcare topics: Behavioral Health in Primary Care; Counseling Techniques for Substance Use Disorders; COVID-19; Opioids, Pain and Substance Use Disorders; Pediatric Autism; Viral Hepatitis and Liver Care; Medications for Opioid Use Disorder; and X-Waiver Trainings.

More information about how to register for ECHO Idaho’s free continuing education opportunities is available at: uidaho.edu/echo.

ASSETS AVAILABLE: Video is available in an online gallery.

Media Contact

Kyle Pfannenstiel
External Communications Coordinator
208-329-8947
kylecp@uidaho.edu

Health care workers listen during a presentation by Project ECHO Idaho.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at uidaho.edu.

About Project ECHO Idaho

Utilized worldwide, the Project ECHO model is an educational resource that empowers healthcare professionals in remote or underserved communities to treat complex conditions and disorders with specialist-level expertise. At ECHO Idaho, clinicians statewide join via video conferencing for one-hour sessions that include brief lectures, case reviews, resource sharing, and discussion. In this way, the ECHO model exponentially increases workforce capacity to provide best practice specialty care and reduce health disparities. Learn more at uidaho.edu/echo.

Contact

University Communications and Marketing

Fax: 208-885-5841

Email: uinews@uidaho.edu

Web: Communications and Marketing

U of I Media Contacts