Medical students gain experience as rural health care providers, researchers in the UW summer program | News

September 7, 2022

Wyoming WWAMI student Scott Killian, right, a Buffalo UW student, poses with Dr. Spencer Weston at High Country Behavioral Health in Evanston. Killian received a “medical student” experience this summer through UW’s Rural / Underserved Opportunity Program. (Photo by Marisol Contreras)

The WWAMI Medical Education Program on the University of Wyoming campus hosts state-of-the-art classrooms, where students can experience learning at the highest level taught in any medical school.

However, unique to Wyoming WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) is a program that allows students to pursue medical research and experience firsthand what life is like for a doctor in many rural communities across the state. by Cowboy.

The “Independent Investigation” – or Triple I – course follows a number of different paths. The Rural / Underserved Opportunities (RUOP) program at UW School of Medicine is a four-week elective immersion experience in rural medicine for students between the first and second years of medical school.

Students are paired with practicing doctors so that students can interact firsthand with real patients in settings they are likely to encounter after graduation and return to Wyoming to practice. While at their RUOP sites, students should also complete an abbreviated local health assessment to identify both community resources and public health concerns. Using the current evidence-based literature, students then evaluate intervention strategies related to a public health problem they identified in their assessment.

Students who do not choose to participate in RUOP can complete a summer research project called the Scholarship of Discovery (SOD). While RUOP focuses more on the clinical / patient interaction experience, SOD focuses on laboratory research. Of the 20 members of the E-21 class of medical students, 14 were stationed statewide in their four-week RUOP elective; five have completed an SOD project; and a student completed RUOP in rural Montana.

WWAMI is an educational consortium of five states, where all share similar geographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Wyoming residents who attend medical school under the WWAMI program receive their degrees from the University of Washington School of Medicine.

“We are so fortunate to be able to train physicians in their home state of Wyoming while associating with the University of Washington, the # 1 School of Medicine for Primary Care and Family Medicine,” says Wyoming WWAMI Director Brant Schumaker. .

Sara Martinez-Garcia spent most of her summer SOD experience in her hometown of Casper, researching melanoma incidence while stationed at the Casper Dermatology Clinic with Dr. Tyler Quest.

“I was lucky enough to spend a lot of my time in the clinic, seeing patients and learning a lot,” says Martinez-Garcia. “I also had the opportunity to go to Lander and volunteer with the Skin Cancer Foundation – along with Dr Quest and Dr Cobb, from Jackson – to offer free skin checks to community members.”

Also in his hometown of Casper for his SOD experience, Colin O’Neill conducted research to investigate the results of a new shoulder bump treatment with Dr. Joseph McGinley, a sports medicine physician.

woman standing next to a sign

Sara Martinez-Garcia, a WWAMI student from Casper’s Wyoming, completed a summer program at the Casper Dermatology Clinic. Lei Scholarship of Discovery program is offered through UW’s WWAMI Medical Education Program. (Photo by Rebecca Samberg)

“My research experience has been phenomenal,” says O’Neill. “It deepened my appreciation for the research process and sparked interest in pursuing research as part of my medical career.”

Bailey Stuart, from Gillette, began her RUOP at Sheridan Memorial Hospital.

“I have worked alongside physicians in various departments, including internal medicine, rheumatology, cardiology, addiction medicine, pathology and emergency medicine,” says Stuart.

Buffalo’s Scott Killian notes that while it was his last ever summer vacation, he kept busy. In addition to being a “medical student” during his RUOP in Evanston, working with Dr. Spencer Weston at High Country Behavioral Health and Dr. Elizabeth Ricciardi at Wyoming State Hospital, Killian balanced his time with fitness breaks at Evanston Recreation Center.

“Evanston really embodied how Wyoming communities come together to solve problems,” says Killian. “They used my strengths and knowledge to complement already robust suicide prevention projects and augmented my knowledge through incredible learning opportunities at High Country Behavioral Health and Wyoming State Hospital. I couldn’t have had a better summer experience.

Saul Alvarado, of Cheyenne, completed his SOD in Laramie, working alongside Ana Clara Bobadilla, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the UW School of Pharmacy.

“I spent most of my time doing some pretty interesting research on heroin addiction with Dr. Bobadilla, and in the meantime, I did a little board exam from the first pass studying. I was busy.”

For SOD or RUOP, all students are required to present their research results in a poster session at the WWAMI Research Symposium. The introductions are part of the WWAMI Wyoming 25th Anniversary Celebration at the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center on Friday, October 28.

All students in the E-21 medical school class, listed by hometown, are:

Afton – Carson Walker.

Buffalo – Scott Killian.

Casper – Tazle Markovich, Sara Martinez-Garcia, Audrey Mossman, Colin O’Neill and Laura Stamp.

Cheyenne – Saul Alvarado.

Cody – Bethany Shotts.

Dubois – Kurt Leseberg.

Gillette – Brandon Izatt and Bailey Stuart.

Jackson – Matthew Rorke.

Laramie – Seth Eckhardt and Christopher Henry.

McKinnon – Brandon Young.

Powell – Tristan Bohlman.

Rock Springs – Hanna Ahuja and Jessica Garcia.

Wheatland – Samantha Britz.

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