Five Students Earn the Rural Health Certification of Distinction
Arizona is in dire need of physicians, and the need is greatest in rural areas. The Health Resources and Services Administration estimates that the state needs 563 primary care physicians to eliminate the current shortage and will need 1,941 physicians by 2030.
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix is committed to inspiring and training medical students to one day practice in a rural setting to help underserved populations. Through the Rural Health Certification of Distinction (COD), third-year medical students can get first-hand exposure to rural health care, receive one-on-one instruction with physicians and have direct contact with patients.
“One in 10 physicians practice rural medicine, even though two in 10 Arizonans live in a rural setting,” Director of the Rural Health Professions Program Jonathan Cartsonis, MD, said. “Rural populations experience more chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. This is related to the fact that more elderly are living in rural communities than urban. Students need to know this. As a medical school, we have the obligation to train physicians all over the state and where they are most needed.”
The Rural Health Professions Program COD recognizes students who demonstrate a strong commitment to future rural medical practice. Students who are a part of the program have clinical exposure experiences that are outside the norms of general clinical surroundings.
In order to earn the certificate, students must model their course of study around rural health topics, including requirements like scholarly projects, on-going seminar series, recurring meetings with mentors to discuss issues surrounding rural health and a four-week summer rural pre-clinical experience. These experiences are bolstered by a minimum of 15 weeks of rural clerkship experiences from a variety of specialties.
The program had its first graduating class in 2017, and so far four students have earned the COD.
This year, five graduating students met the requirements: Lauren Dominick, Nathan Goff, Omar Hussain, Charles Smith and Michael Wasserman. They will graduate as part of the Class of 2019 during the Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 6 at 3:30 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams St., Phoenix.
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