Operation Orange kicks off its 10th year in Tahlequah

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Oklahoma ranks 43rd in the nation for the number of primary care physicians per population, and OSU is helping combat this with Operation Orange.

Dr. NaTasha Bray is the dean of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation, and she said the shortage of physicians is even worse in rural areas.

“When we look at our rural communities and tribally serving clinics that shortage of physicians is even greater,” said Dr. Bray

To help ease that shortage, Oklahoma State University is going out into the community to find kids who may be interested in pursuing medicine.

“We want to take kids from rural communities, give them the opportunity to learn train and become a physician so that they’re able to go back and serve their neighbors and communities they came from,” said Dr. Bray

Dr. Bray described what happens when people don’t have access to health care.

“People in our rural communities can’t get a doctor when they’re sick, they’re not able to follow up on things like diabetes or hypertension because they’re not physically able to get into those clinics.”

Dr. Bray said the problem is especially critical in Tahlequah.

“Here in Tahlequah we don’t have enough primary care physicians to serve the population so what we see a lot of patients actually have to go to Tulsa get medical care.”

That’s why OSU on Tuesday launched Operation Orange, so kids can get some real life experience in the medical field.

“Pretty excited about it kind of go out to those rural communities and kind of showcase what we as a school do and what our medical students do as well,” said Dylan Tucker, outreach coordinator OSU center for Health Sciences.

Operation Orange is now in its 10th year.

It travels the state and holds medical camps for kids in middle and high schools.

“It is a very fun event where students can meet with staff and talk about future career options,” said Elliott Bray, student.

Operation Orange will continue through June 8th in five other locations in Oklahoma including Enid, Ada, Durant, Lawton and Stillwater.

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