COSAM News Articles 2020 October COSAM's Commitment to the Student Experience - Rural Medicine Students

COSAM's Commitment to the Student Experience - Rural Medicine Students

Published: 10/06/2020

By: Maria Gebhardt

This year’s rural medicine students gathered in front of SCC to take their annual class photo. Wearing masks, the 13 students took their photo on the iconic steps of the Sciences Center Classroom Building.

These students have made an important decision to dedicate their career to helping rural communities throughout the state of Alabama.

“These students are critically needed in our state,” explained Lawrence Wit, professor emeritus in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM). “In some rural communities, patients travel for hours to see a doctor.  These students will help residents in small towns with a better quality of life and increased access to healthcare.”

The 2020 Rural Medicine Program (RMP) includes:

  • Nikki Ahuja
  • Caleb Bush
  • Chloe Carroll
  • Laura Catherine Cresswell
  • Jay Foster
  • Daniel Frank
  • Kaysie Freer
  • Amy Garcia
  • Spencer Gibbs
  • Cortney Haymon
  • Hunter Johnson
  • Cara Parker
  • Ellie Pitchford

Jay Foster, a current rural medicine student, was struck by the beauty of Auburn University’s campus.

“I had heard for years that Auburn has a beautiful campus,” Foster said. “As soon as I came here, I saw how the entire campus is absolutely amazing. I fell in love with it.”

He is currently taking courses and working towards his goal of becoming a rural medicine doctor.

“During this fall semester, I have enjoyed having my vertebrate development class in-person,” he added. “Being able to interact with the professor helps me enjoy the class and prepares me for the rigors of medical school.”

Dedicating his career to helping patients in small towns comes from the heart. 

“Through experiences that I have encountered with my own family, my shadowing of rural physicians, and my own research; I have realized that with each passing year there are fewer physicians practicing in rural areas, and fewer medical students that are interested in returning to rural areas to practice,” Foster said. “Patients are beginning to have to travel upwards of 30-45 minutes just to see their family doctor, and for some individuals, this just isn’t feasible. My fellow RMP students and I have recognized this issue, and hope to do as much as we can to mitigate it once we finish our residencies. I also enjoy the rural lifestyle. I come from a tight knit community, and I truly appreciate the close relationships that you can develop with people in less populated areas. These are just a couple of reasons that cemented my decision to pursue a career in rural primary care.”

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