Rural America needs more physicians. The Daily Sun's article this past week, (“To boost workforce, med schools sell rural life,” Associated Press, Aug. 24) fails to mention the outstanding programs that exists right here at home.
The University of Arizona Medical School's Rural Health Professions Program has been exposing their medical students to rural medicine for years. Once enrolled in the RHPP, students have the opportunity to rotate to the Winslow Indian Health Care Center, Flagstaff Medical Center, Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation and other rural facilities throughout our state. They are exposed to everything from surgery to family medicine. Local physicians are credentialed as Associate Professors of the U of A. We teach them how much different rural medicine is compared to the urban variety.
At the graduate level, at the Department of Surgery at the Banner University Medical Centers in Tucson and Phoenix, surgical residents have the opportunity to experience life as a rural surgeon. Residents rotate to the same facilities in Flagstaff, Tuba City and Winslow to work with general surgeons. They come to appreciate the high level of care we provide and the diversity of procedures that are performed.
I applaud the spotlight that the Daily Sun has put on the need for doctors in remote, less populated areas of our country. Highlighting the efforts by local physicians and surgeons in northeastern Arizona to teach in-state medical students allows our community to understand our commitment to quality and continuity.
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Personally, I have already seen the fruits of my labor. The very first medical student I taught as part of the surgical RHPP in 2010 joined the WIHCC as a family physician when she finished her residency. She is an excellent physician and has been here three years with no intention of leaving.
I am very proud of the University of Arizona Medical School and the Surgery Programs in Phoenix and Tucson. They are committed to rural medicine. I am confident they will continue to succeed in their goal of encouraging physicians and surgeons to practice at rural sites.