Twenty-one students from the MD Class of 2014 gained an early perspective on the life of a rural physician through the OHSU Summer Observership Program, offered by the Department of Family Medicine. The week-long program matched incoming OHSU MD students with supervising physicians from Canby to Lakeview, Reedsport to Heppner – and many small towns and communities in between.
“We started this program in 1987 in order to introduce students to family and rural medicine,” said Anita Taylor, MEd, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine. “Then, as now, there was a real crisis in attracting new physicians to rural Oregon. We felt the incoming students needed to see how physicians in rural areas were meeting an important need in the state.”
Statistics as well as anecdotal evidence suggest that when students are exposed to rural practice, they are more likely to choose to practice medicine in these areas in the future. Not only do they establish important professional relationships, they become more comfortable with the breadth of practice requirements of rural settings.
“I was not aware of all the responsibilities of a rural physician,” student Wyatt Messenger said at the conclusion of the week. “Rural health was hardly on the radar for me and now I’m strongly considering it.”
The Summer Observership Program took place before orientation week for incoming MD Program students. Prior to traveling to their Observership communities, students attended an all-day orientation that included seminars on conducting a physical exam and taking a medical history. On their return, students attended a debriefing dinner where they share stories about staffing the emergency room, being in the delivery room to witness their first birth, going on morning rounds with the physician and staff or discussing a challenging diagnosis with the physician while commuting to the office.
Click here for a full listing of the students who participated, their preceptor physicians and the communities in which they served.
Pictured: (Top) Student participants in the Summer Observership Program 2010; (Bottom) William Toffler, MD, Professor, Department of Family Medicine, discusses the experience with students at the Debrief Dinner.