UW Medical Education Program prepares students for practice in rural, underserved communities

Posted 8/27/19

With a total of 544 physicians serving a population of about 580,000 people spread across 97,818 square miles, Wyoming ranks 44th in the nation when it comes to having a sufficient physician …

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UW Medical Education Program prepares students for practice in rural, underserved communities

Posted

With a total of 544 physicians serving a population of about 580,000 people spread across 97,818 square miles, Wyoming ranks 44th in the nation when it comes to having a sufficient physician workforce.

There’s a clear need for more physicians to serve the rural and underserved communities throughout the state, University of Wyoming officials say. However, they say the challenge is not only how to prepare medical students for practice in those communities but also to help them remain in practice and better serve their communities.

The WWAMI Medical Education Program at the University of Wyoming aims to do that through the Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program.

The four-week elective immersion experience in community medicine — for students between their first and second year of medical school — provides students early exposure to primary care medicine in a rural or urban underserved setting. It also promotes a positive attitude toward practicing medicine in rural communities while giving students an opportunity to learn how community health care systems function.

WWAMI is a five-state education consortium for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho — all of which share similar geographical and socio-economic characteristics.

Wyoming residents attending medical school as part of the WWAMI program receive their degrees from the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM). Over the past 25 years, UWSOM has been ranked as one of the top three primary care medical schools in the country.

“It is an established fact that one of the most important predictors of physicians choosing to practice in rural locations is whether or not the physician was exposed to rural care in medical school,” says WWAMI Director Timothy Robinson.

The University of Washington School of Medicine offers over 200 clinical training sites, he said, a significant portion of which are rural, throughout the five-state WWAMI region.

Eleven medical students were placed throughout Wyoming as part of this summer’s Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program.

Locally, that included Amanda Golden of Cody, who worked alongside Dr. Nicole Comer at Powell Valley Healthcare.

Other participating students and physician preceptors, listed by their RUOP communities, are:

To learn more about WWAMI Medical Education, visit www.uwyo.edu/wwami.

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