Fourth-year medical student Elizabeth Junkin participated in TLC2‘s pilot year and worked closely with Dr. Julia Boothe in Reform, Alabama. She says she had experiences she never would have had in a traditional medical school curriculum.

“What interested me most about TLC2 was the longitudinal relationships you get to make with your patients,” Junkin says. “You get to know them on a more intimate level than just the eight-week rotation. In an eight-week rotation, you might see a patient once, twice, three times if you’re lucky. I saw some patients six or seven times at least, and I get to see them develop over that period of time.”

Junkin was able to care for a patient who was pregnant and follow her through the pregnancy.

“Caring for a patient during her pregnancy, then being able to deliver the baby, was an experience I’ll never forget,” she says.

Junkin says she also had a unique experience with a patient while working with Boothe.

A man came into the clinic one day complaining of a vague abdominal pain. Junkin took a patient history, determined it could be appendicitis, and the patient was sent to the nearby hospital for a CT scan.

At the end of the day, the scan results came back as positive for appendicitis, but Boothe had already gone. With persistence, Junkin reached the only surgeon in Pickens County only to learn he didn’t have his full surgical team and couldn’t do the procedure. So the patient had to be transported to DCH Hospital in Northport, Alabama, by helicopter.

Once the patient was on his way, Junkin got into her car, drove to Northport and got to see her patient before he went into surgery—with which she assisted.

The next day she went to check on her patient. “He was so happy to see me,” she says. “If I had been in a family medicine clerkship, I couldn’t have been involved in the surgery. If I was in a surgery clerkship, I couldn’t have been involved in the diagnosis.”



Kay Rainey, also a fourth-year medical student who participated in TLC2‘s pilot year, said the she appreciates the experiences with students that are unique to a longitudinal curriculum.

“I think one of the major pluses of the program is getting to see your patients over the course of time,” she says.

She said she learned this through a patient who was diagnosed with asthma.

“You get to see what it looks like when a patient presents with asthma for the first time, and then how things unfold with treatment, she says. “You get to see if what you told them the first time was what they needed to hear. You get to get better at those things because you can see when you fail.”

Copyright © - The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences