Students Train With Rural Doctors

Students Train With Rural Doctors

A relatively new program, called “Undergraduate Rural Medicine Education and Development” (URMED) offers internships during January at BVRMC for two BVU pre-med students who have expressed a strong interest in practicing rural medicine. The program creates less intense opportunities for other pre-professional students to explore their interest in health care careers. The goal is to encourage the BVU students to pursue careers in rural medicine and specifically to motivate them to consider returning to Storm Lake upon completion of their professional training.

One of the benefits to the students selected for the January internships is that each will receive a $3,000 stipend, which can be used to help defray expenses associated with taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and applying to medical schools. BVU and BVRMC are sharing in the funding of the stipends, which are being provided through private donations.

During the URMED January internships, students accompany different physicians and other medical professionals to experience what it is like to work daily with patients in the hospital, in surgery and the emergency room, as well as in a clinic setting. They also have the opportunity to attend lectures and continuing education programs held for physicians at BVRMC.

“We want to allow them as much access into our world as we can,” says Dr. David Crippin, a family practioner at Trimark Buena Vista Clinic. “For entrance into medical school, one thing that is looked at is how much hands-on experience students have. Here students get experience. They are going into surgeries and deliveries. They are getting hands-on with patients and patients understand this is how you get better future doctors.”

While the BVU students who intern at BVRMC have no obligation to return to practice in Storm Lake, BVRMC staff and the university’s science faculty will continue to maintain contact with them throughout their medical education in hopes that some may want to return to this area, says Dr. Richard Lampe (class of 1969), professor of biology, who helped spearhead the development of this program along with faculty colleagues and BVRMC staff. Lampe is also a member of the BVRMC Board of Trustees.

“The URMED program is an outstanding example of how Buena Vista University works collaboratively with the community to improve the well-being and quality of life for its residents and provide hands-on learning opportunities with faculty and health care mentors,” says BVU President Fred Moore. “This program truly benefits all parties involved — our students, the rural health care communities and the university.”

The URMED program comes at a time when the number of pre-med students at BVU, and those being accepted to medical school, has been increasing. In a typical year, one or two would go to medical school. This year, seven students applied to medical schools and were accepted.

The future of the URMED program remains promising. According to Dr. Brian Lenzmeier, assistant professor of biology, there have been other hospitals and clinics interested in participating, both in Iowa and Nebraska.

“We are considering expanding the paid URMED internships to other health professions,” says Lenzmeier. “The immediate avenue we are exploring is dentistry, as the crisis of rural dentist shortages is becoming serious. Long-term, other professional areas that are being considered are physical therapy, optometry and pharmacy, which are all areas where we have successfully placed good numbers of students into good graduate programs in the past five years.”