Troy University partners to train rural physicians

Published 10:00 pm Monday, September 22, 2008

In hopes of curing Alabama’s physician shortage, Troy University has become a partner in training medical school students in rural areas.

Through the new program, Troy University students can now attend the university for all but one year of medical school.

“It is more opportunity for our students,” said Phillip Reynolds, Troy’s assistant professor of biology and health professions advisor. “Our pre-med students now have the opportunity to spend 75 percent of their medical education right here in town.”

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Reynolds said this program houses up to 10 students per year at Troy’s campus under a contract with Alabama Medical Education Consortium and a partnership with A. T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona.

Executive Director of AMEC Will Baker said all colleges in Alabama now have some type of partnership with a medical school through this program.

“According to the Bureau of Health Professions, Alabama has a need today in rural and under served Alabama of about 520 plus positions, so what we’re doing is an effort to help address the rural and under served physician manpower deficit,” Baker said.

The program brings students from Alabama back to their state after their first year of study in one of the partner medical schools. Baker said they will finish instruction and perform their clinicals in Alabama.

“The data shows people will tend to practice near where they train, so when you have a community based education model, where the training is done throughout the state, you develop those relationships that keep people in those areas for their practice careers,” Baker said.

Reynolds said for this group of students, who started the program in September, only two of the nine are from Alabama. But, as the program develops, he said AMEC will be able to select students who are from the state to attend.

“At this point, we are priming the pump, so we take students from different places to help get this pipeline in place,” Baker said. “Our goal is to have 100 percent.”

Right now, Baker said there are 150 slots for students to enter this program in the state each year, with about 100 students enrolled right now.

Though this is Troy’s first year to jump on board, his is the program’s third year in the state, and so far 24 have become residents in medicine.

“The partnership we have with Troy University, is a partnership where they provide us with space for our students,” Baker said.

Reynolds, who assists with learning facilitation in the program, said so far, it has been a great success in the area.

“Everything seems to be working well, and so far, they also enjoy their clinical experience,” Reynolds said. “We appreciate the physician support around the area, and we are always looking for more.”