Local physician mentors medical student

Health program encourages students to practice in rural areas

By Diane Saunders, Staff Writer
http://www.eacourier.com

Amanda Brown has wanted to be a doctor since she was 7 years old, and after spending the last few weeks training at the Gila Valley Clinic, she is closer to achieving her goal.

Brown, a student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, is among 15 medical school students participating in the Rural Health Professions Program. The 10-year-old program is designed to encourage medical school graduates to practice medicine in rural communities, such as the Gila Valley.

Participants are between their first and second years of medical school. Students work at a physician’s office and reside in the community for four to six weeks.

“You get amazing experiences here,� Brown said, adding that she was surprised by how receptive local patients and doctors are to medical school students.

Dr. Susan Jones, who is serving as her mentor, said providing medical school students with opportunities to learn in an office or hospital setting is not new.

“We’ve had students off and on since I’ve been here — 23 years. It’s been more consistent the last seven years,� Jones said.

While some of the students she has mentored were participants in the rural health programs, others were not, she said.

Brown is allowed to see patients under the supervision of any of the four doctors at the Gila Valley Clinic.

“It’s just to show her the ins and outs of seeing patients,� Jones said. “She gets to work with all of us.�

Brown said she has been present for several births — including normal deliveries and Cesarean sections.

“It’s a very touching experience,� she said.

She said she was surprised at how receptive local doctors are to medical school students.

“Just to watch them do their work is pretty amazing,� Brown said.

Most of the patients she has seen have expressed their trust and respect for their doctors.

Jones said she and the other doctors at the clinic like mentoring the aspiring doctors.

“All students, when they come, are like Amanda. That renews our enthusiasm,� Jones said.

During her four weeks in Safford, Jones has begun to form a rapport with several patients.

“I’m seeing repeat patients who are happy to see me,� she said.

Brown added that she likes the continuity of care offered to patients by a family practice physician.

According to the UA College of Medicine, students who participate in the Rural Health Professions Program are more likely to select primary care specialties than their classmates.
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