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In an underserved area?
IUSM’s rural health program is preparing medical students to help
e-Reports, December 6, 2010
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To meet the demand for more physicians in underserved areas and support those already practicing, the IU School of Medicine (IUSM) launched the Rural Medical Education Program in Terre Haute. Now in its third year, the program’s goals include recruiting Indiana medical students who are committed to serving rural communities and giving them the tools to practice in those areas.

The first class has eight students who have been working with local physicians and doing clinical clerkship rotations at five rural hospitals. About 33 students are enrolled in the program and all of them are very much interested in primary care, notes Peter Duong, Ph.D., assistant dean and director of the program.

Brad Hirsch
Third-year medical student Brad Hirsch

“Our first successful landmark will be next year when the first class starts residency,” he said.

Third-year medical student, Brad Hirsch, grew up in Haubstadt, a farming community in Gibson County.

“There is a lot of one-on-one with the doctors I’ve worked with,” noted Hirsch who has shadowed more than five physicians. “I can go in and see a patient and then discuss the case with the doctor. I have also been first-assist in surgery. I’m not sure I would get that in Indianapolis.”

In his last rotation, Hirsch shadowed Mark Lynch, M.D., a surgeon, who considers teaching students one of the most important uses of time. Under Dr. Lynch’s supervision, students see patients and travel with him to area hospitals to help with surgery.

“Having a limited number of students provides a unique experience,” commented Dr. Lynch. “In some of the larger areas, students may see the same procedure 20 times. Here, they will see procedures in every part of the body in one day.”

The rural track curriculum specifically combines basic science and clinical literacy with rural medicine. That means medical students are schooled in the common injuries and illness associated most with rural environments.

“I’m impressed with the resourcefulness of these doctors to use what is available,” noted Hirsch. “The rural track program is giving me an excellent experience.”

Read about the program here.

Fast Facts*

  • Approximately 30% of Indiana’s population lives in rural areas, and nearly all of these communities do not have enough physicians.
  • Only 2% of the state’s rural counties meet the U.S. benchmark for the number of primary care specialists.
  • By 2020, Indiana will need 2,000 additional primary care physicians to meet its health care needs.
  • Half of the state’s counties are designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas.

Read more here.

*Source: IU School of Medicine Bowen Research Center

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