October 6, 2022
Left to right: Eliza Filene, Anna Caffrey Bottoms, Ricardo Crespo, and Gaston Sanders hold T-shirts that Filene designed to commemorate their shared summer experience.
Four students lived and worked in Rockingham County and Caswell County this summer as part of a program designed to increase their understanding of rural health care.
GREENSBORO — Greensboro AHEC hosted its first cohort of Kenan Primary Care Medical Scholars this summer, supporting the students through multiple service lines. Student Services Coordinator Tonya Crawford-Baldwin assisted with setting up housing, and the Library Services team supported the students through individual consultations and with a presentation from Medical Library Director Ed Donnald on the process of creating scientific posters.
The Kenan Scholars program gives students from The University of North Carolina School of Medicine the opportunity to explore the complexities of patient care in rural North Carolina, with the goal of populating underserved areas with well-trained doctors. It includes a summer immersion experience, during which students live and work in a rural community.
Greensboro AHEC’s first cohort, all of whom have personal experience with rural and underserved populations, spent about a month in Rockingham County and Caswell County, serving patients in a family medicine clinic. When they weren’t at the clinic, they shadowed different specialties and provided community service according to their interests. The program’s Student Coordinator Amber Chrismon and Medical Director Dr. Karl B. Fields collaborated with Greensboro AHEC Director of Medical Education Terry Lynn to develop the curriculum and to recruit the students’ preceptors: Crister Brady, MD, Piedmont Health Services; Joshua Dettinger, MD, and Ashly Gottschalk, DO, Western Rockingham Family Medicine; and Brad Thompson, MD, Dayspring Family Medicine.
At a recent poster presentation held at UNC–Chapel Hill, the students presented some of their work from the experience:
Anna Caffrey Bottoms, from Waynesville, presented her research into colon cancer compliance at Western Rockingham Family Medicine.
Gaston Sanders, from Harkers Island, and Eliza Filene, from Carrboro, presented their project with Rockingham County Health Department gathering community input on the allocation of funding to combat the opioid epidemic.
Ricardo Crespo, born in Mexico City and raised in Pink Hill, presented data he gathered and interventions he created related to diabetes and nutrition in the community.
Celebrating its 10th year this year, the program offers medical students rural experiences in Central, Eastern, and Western North Carolina through the Kenan Rural Scholars program, with support from the Sarah Graham Kenan Endowment and the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.
The students came away from their time in Rockingham County and Caswell County with a new appreciation for the challenges—and the opportunities—in rural health care. “I changed careers to medicine because I wanted to make a difference in my community, ” Caffrey Bottoms says. “Seeing rural family medicine this summer was a great learning experience. In a rural community, family medicine physicians get to see everything and everyone. We saw newborns to the elderly in one day. The variety was exciting. ”
Beyond clinical skills, the students’ summer experience provided perspective. “There is so much more to being a great, trusted doctor than just knowing all the science,” Crespo says. “I was able to see the large efforts made by my clinic to practice and encourage preventative medicine, despite having very limited time with patients. There is a need to serve these populations and better their access to care and the standard of care they receive. The summer program showed me how various specialties function broadly in a rural community and the impactful ways they can elevate rural medicine.”
Crespo’s preceptor, Dr. Thompson, was a Kenan Scholar himself—and, after this summer’s experience, Crespo says he would love to serve as a preceptor in the program too one day. Greensboro AHEC is proud to support these students as they move along the pathway toward a rural health career and as they pave the way for others.
For more information about Greensboro AHEC Graduate Medical Education Support, please email GME@conehealth.com.
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