Meet Renee Menkens, MS, RNC, the OAC’s Second Breakthrough Leader of Nursing and Advocate for Rural Health

By Kate Kaznowska

Renee Menkens, MS, RNC,  has been a part of the Oregon Action Coalition Steering Committee for the last three years.  By being a part of the coalition, she brings the voice of rural health and rural nursing practice.

“It’s been both wonderful and challenging.  Challenging because I am in Coos Bay and have to rely on technology to connect with the group, but also wonderful because I can be involved in the OAC work and bring very needed rural perspective to the conversation,” says Menkens.

She is currently an assistant professor at OHSU School of Nursing in the RN to BSN completion program. Renee also taught for eight years at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay, and recently the Student Faculty Council nominated her to receive the OHSU All Hill Award for her ongoing support to nursing students.

In 2015, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP recognized Renee as a “Breakthrough Leader of Nursing.” Her experience as a Breakthrough Leader is helping emphasize the importance of the Culture of Health in everything she does. For example, Renee is currently involved in creating a health assessment in her local community, which allows her to work with public health leaders, Native American tribes, hospitals and the OHSU extension office.

“Renee’s contribution to the OAC means so much,” said Jana R. Bitton, OAC co-lead and executive director of the Oregon Center for Nursing. “Despite the challenges of meeting remotely, Renee is an invaluable resources in helping to promote the value nurses can bring to rural settings.”