Katie Fuller, a medical student enrolled at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Ft. Worth, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, is in the process of completing 320 hours of clinical training under the guidance of a preceptor, Dr. Craig Whiting, D.O., at the Hoerster Clinic. Ms. Fuller began the training on August 31, 2009 and will complete the training on October 23, 2009. Ms. Fuller has completed training under Dr. Whiting’s guidance on other occasions during her medical school training. This opportunity to train with the same preceptor in the same community over time is a focus of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine’s rural focused curriculum tract. Katie Fuller is originally from Shawnee, Oklahoma. She completed her undergraduate degree (BS) in Biology at Dallas Baptist University.
The Cherokee Home for Children provided Ms. Fuller with donated housing during her training with Dr. Whiting. This pulling together of resources by the San Saba County Community is what allows training programs the opportunity to send health professionals in training to rural communities.
Meeting the health needs of rural communities continues to be a focus of Area Health Education Center (AHEC) programs in Texas. Providing the opportunity for students in health professions programs to complete clinical training in rural areas not only gives the student a glimpse of what rural medicine entails but also allows the community the opportunity to recruit health professionals for the long-term future.
While each student who completes clinical training in a rural community might choose to practice in another area, word of mouth from a positive experience goes a long way to hosting future students and compiling a list of perspective health providers for a community’s long term plans for meeting the health needs of its population. Byron Theodosis, San Saba County Judge agrees. “We are delighted to have Katie Fuller training with our staff at the Hoerster Clinic. This is one of several great programs sponsored by the Big Country Area Health Education Center designed to address the acute shortage of health care personnel in many rural areas of Texas. Our county hopes that her experience here will be very rewarding both educationally and personally.” Ronnie Laurance, Director of Special Projects for the Big Country AHEC added “introducing your community to a future practitioner and the opportunity for the student to continue the learning process in a rural setting is a win-win situation for both the community and the student.”
Community based education experiences like these are the result of a partnership between communities, community health professionals, health professions training schools and the Big Country Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Big Country AHEC’s mission is to address the health care provider shortage and improve health care access in North and West Central Texas through education and development of the health care workforce. Goals include introducing school aged youth to health careers, providing rural clinical training for students in the health professions, supporting existing health care professionals via continuing education and promoting healthy living. The Big Country AHEC is a service of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health and the West Central Texas Council of Governments. For further information about the Big Country AHEC please contact Kelly Cheek at 325-793-8484 or email at email@example.com.