From left: URMED students Caitlin Hof, Colton Webber and Andy Schanbacher. Far right: URDI student Brooke Berkey.
The innovative Undergraduate Rural Medicine Education and Development (URMED) program developed five years ago through a partnership with Buena Vista University and Buena Vista Regional Medical Center (BVRMC) has selected three students for its January 2013 capstone program.
BVRMC provides experiential learning opportunities throughout the academic year for BVU students pursuing careers in medicine and other health care professions. The capstone of the URMED program is an intensive January internship for selected BVU pre-med students who have an interest in practicing rural medicine.
The students selected for the January 2013 URMED internship are:
Caitlin Hof, a junior biology, chemistry, and psychology triple major from Yankton, S.D. “I applied for the URMED program because I believe it will give me a great insight into the medical field. I hope to learn more about rural medicine as I hope to practice somewhere in the Midwest. In the future, having this experience will really benefit me. I will have prior experiences to draw from during medical school interviews and it will show me more of the day to day happenings of a hospital. It will help me reaffirm my interest in medicine.”
Colton Webber, a senior athletic training/pre-med major from Turnerville, Ga. “I applied for the URMED program because of the extraordinary experience that it offers in terms of undergraduate observation, which can be difficult to locate. I hope to gain knowledge of the inner workings of day to day clinical work as a doctor, patient interaction, and as well as gain some perspective on my career possibilities. This experience will greatly assist my future endeavors as a doctor as well as in my application to medical school.”
Andy Schanbacher, a junior biology major from Newhall. “I applied for this program because it will allow me, as an undergraduate, to have a glimpse into the life of a physician and see what their everyday life is like. Through this program I would like to learn more about the different specialties offered in the world of medicine, so I can have a better idea of what I would like to become. It will be interesting to see how a small town rural hospital functions in comparison to the larger hospitals that I have shadowed at. This experience will help give me a leg up on the competition for medical school due to the exposure to the interworking of a medical facility that I will receive. It will be helpful to see so many aspects of medicine before I begin my schooling as a physician.”
Other hospitals participating in URMED this year are Humboldt County Memorial Hospital, Loring Hospital in Sac City and Pocahontas Community Hospital. Each of the students will intern at BVRMC for two weeks and then one week at one of the other hospitals. The participating hospitals and BVU, through donor support, provide financial resources for $3,000 URMED stipends awarded to each student to help them defray the costs of applying to medical schools
“URMED serves both the hospital and the university well by attracting top quality students who are considering their future in medicine,” says Dr. Richard Lampe, professor of biology who helped develop the URMED partnership and is also current chair of the BVRMC board of trustees. “Many BVU students come from rural backgrounds and may find it appealing to continue their life and their career in such a setting. I have been very pleased to see our URMED scholars become excited about the high quality of our medical community and the fine outcomes that patients have through BVRMC. Such experiences promote the likelihood of these same students seriously considering returning to the Storm Lake region to have their medical practice.”
The URMED program was designed as one possible solution to the impending national shortage of physicians and other healthcare practitioners in rural communities. While the URMED alumni have no obligation to return to the communities where they interned, BVU science faculty, and officials at BVRMC and the other participating hospitals stay in regular contact and build ongoing relationships with them. The URMED program is also attracting new BVU students who are interested in health care careers, adds Lampe.
“URMED gives the students the chance to work directly with physicians and other health care professionals,” says Brad Strader, executive director of the BVRMC Foundation and physician recruiter. “It also gives the participating hospitals a chance to see the students in action and evaluate their dedication and level of interest in taking the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and applying to medical schools.” Strader, a member of the URMED selection committee, also maintains contact with URMED students who are admitted to medical schools as they progress in their medical education, including opportunities for a clinical rotation at BVRMC.
To date, seven BVU graduates who completed the URMED program are medical students, five others have been accepted to medical schools or are in the application process, and two are employed in related health care fields.
A similar January program for pre-dentistry students — the Undergraduate Rural Dentistry Internship (URDI) – provides experiences with two Storm Lake dentists, Dr. Chris Hansen and Dr. Dan Douglas. Started through a grant from Delta Dental Foundation, this program is now in its fourth year. The student selected for the 2013 program is Brooke Berkey, a junior biology major from Colfax, who will also receive a $3,000 stipend to help with the costs of applying to dental schools.
Of the five alumni of the URDI program, two are BVU graduates and currently students in dental school. Another graduate is in the application process. Two are BVU seniors, including one who has been accepted to dental school for next year and another who is in the application process.