COSAM News Articles 2021 September Rural Medicine Program students dedicate their lives to giving back to the state of Alabama

Rural Medicine Program students dedicate their lives to giving back to the state of Alabama

Published: 09/28/2021

By: Maria Gebhardt

“I am devoted to bridging the gap with rural communities and helping provide healthcare solutions in small communities in this state,” said Cameron Roddy.

This year’s class of Rural Medicine Program (RMP) students took their group photo on the steps of the Sciences Center Classrooms building. These students from rural Alabama are on the path to become physicians that focus on communities with smaller populations.  

For many residents of these underserved communities, the primary care shortage requires people to travel for hours just to see a doctor.

“I started first in the internship program and now I am in this program preparing for medical school,” said Chandler Flanigan. “I want to give support to a rural community like the one I grew up in.”

The RMP is jointly sponsored between the University of Alabama School of Medicine (UASOM) and Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) and increases the hands-on experiences for students in clinical settings with shadowing opportunities with physicians.

“As a child, I saw the need for rural medicine doctors,” said Skyler Pavlou. “My dad, a family practitioner in a tiny town, developed meaningful relationship with patients over time.”

The program gives students an opportunity to prepare for an entire academic year before they start medical school at the University of Alabama Birmingham.

“Students selected for this program have excellent academic records and a strong commitment to serve in rural communities. Our program helps ensure that they enter medical school with the best preparation possible for their rigorous course of study. We also prepare them for the financial and social aspects of medical practice in rural settings,” explained COSAM’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Bob Boyd.

The program also provides a chance for students to get invaluable advice and suggestions from medical professionals throughout the year.

“I have had the opportunity to preach to small congregations throughout the state and I understand the need for family medicine doctors in our small communities,” said Nolan Baker. “Without rural medicine doctors, people in these areas may not be able to get any medical help at all.”

Students aim to develop and refine an array of skills since rural medicine doctors have an opportunity to have a wider range of cases than specialists.

“That is the importance of the RMP, it gives us a chance to give back to help small towns,” said Nicole Tyler.

For more than 15 years, this program has helped to increase the influx of family physicians in the state and people in rural areas.

“The Rural Medicine Program provides an opportunity for students to help reduce health inequity seen in areas with lower populations in the state of Alabama and prepare students to become doctors that make a remarkable difference for decades in this state,” said Larry Wit, COSAM's Professor Emeritus and former Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

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