Rural Medical Scholars can now get a better idea of what to expect during their third year and fourth years of clinical education in medical school, thanks to a new class offered by The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences.
The class, Family Medicine Practice and Procedures: Special Topics, is being offered by the departments of Family Medicine and Community and Rural Medicine to second-year medical students who are Rural Medical Scholars.
Students shadowed faculty and gained clinical experience at University Medical Center, which is operated by the College, and at DCH Regional Medical Center. They also participated in skills workshops. The class was offered in August in two week-long periods.
The Rural Medical Scholars Program is for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities. The program includes a year of study, after students receive their undergraduate degree, that leads to a master’s degree in rural community health as well as early admission to the University of Alabama School of Medicine.
Rural Medical Scholars spend the first two years of medical school at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham and then return to the College for their final two years of clinical education. One of the College’s functions is to serve as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the School of Medicine.
The co-instructors for the course are Susan Guin, CRNP, assistant professor in Community and Rural Medicine, and Dr. Drake Lavender, assistant professor in Family Medicine. Rural Medical Scholars tend to have limited interaction with Family Medicine faculty, and this is an effort to change that, Guin says. She says the class is intended to be a preview of what their third year clinical education will be like when they return to Tuscaloosa.
“It’s about relationship building and mentoring for the Rural Medical Scholars,” she says. “It begins that support network that is so beneficial during medical school and residency.”
Three Rural Medical Scholars participated in the course: Nic Cobb, Jake Guin and Whitney Hudman.
The skills workshops included learning airway management from Glenn Davis, director of Emergency Medical Services for the College, and suturing techniques from Dr. William Owings, professor in Family Medicine.
Students also shadowed Owings in clinic at UMC. Jake Guin says observing Owings with a patient was an experience that stood out to him.
“Anyone could tell that the patient truly trusted [Owings], and [Owings] truly cared for the well-being of the patient, physically, mentally and emotionally,” he says.
The students shadowed several other faculty in clinic at UMC, including Dr. Richard Friend, director of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency; Dr. Catherine Scarbrough, associate director of the Family Medicine Residency; Dr. Tamer Elsayed, assistant director of the Family Medicine Residency; Dr. Alan Blum, professor in Family Medicine; Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, assistant professor in Family Medicine; Dr. Jerry McKnight, professor in Family Medicine; and Dr. Catherine Skinner, assistant professor in Family Medicine. The students also shadowed some Family Medicine resident physicians.
Hudman said she found her learning experiences helpful in preparing her for clinical education.
“In addition to learning by seeing patients, it was good just to be able to see what my future will look like as a third-year student, fourth-year student and a family medicine resident,” she says.