|Med students study, train through ROME program|
Ten medical students from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences will study and train with practicing physicians in communities throughout North Dakota through the Rural Opportunities in Medical Education (ROME) program during the 2007-08 academic year.
"This is the largest number of medical students to participate in the ROME program since its inception in 1998," said Roger Schauer, program director and associate professor of family and community medicine. He attributes the popularity of the program to "former ROME students who recruit other students by sharing their excitement and positive experiences, as well as how much they learned and enjoyed the program. The program really sells itself."
On July 9, third-year medical students will begin seven months of training in Hettinger, Jamestown and Williston, learning about rural health care firsthand through the ROME program.
The ROME program is an interdisciplinary experience in a rural primary care setting which allows students to live and train under the supervision of physician-instructors in communities throughout North Dakota. Generally, the ROME program places two students in each community. Later in the academic year, other students will begin in Dickinson and Devils Lake.
Students learn about problems commonly encountered in primary care, from routine health maintenance to medical emergencies and rare or unusual diagnoses, according to Schauer. Teaching physicians are board-certified in family medicine, surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology, as well as subspecialists who serve that community.
"ROME is an exceptional educational opportunity for the motivated student who wants to experience and learn the practice of medicine in a small-town setting," said Robert Beattie, chair of family and community medicine at the UND medical school. "It is a truly exciting educational environment with more opportunities to learn than there is time to take advantage of them.
One of the many objectives of the ROME program is to allow students to learn about patients in the context of continuous care over seven months, which is proving a popular aspect among students. Another benefit of staying with one organization for seven months is that students become members of the health care team. They also experience the scope of care provided in a rural setting.
"There are two students at the site and the experience is longitudinal," Beattie said. "This allows the students to know the hospital, clinics and community, and the people who work and live there. The community also gets to know them."
The ROME program "is good for the communities where students are placed too," explained Schauer. "The students become part of the community. They may teach Sunday school, assist coaches, become members of musical groups or play on sports teams.
"One of the great advantages for the communities," he said, "is that they have the opportunity to begin the process of recruiting the students to come back and establish their practices once they have finished their medical training."
The students, who will complete their studies through the ROME program in February 2008, are members of the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) Class of 2009. After earning the M.D. degree, it is expected they will go on for residency training in the specialty of their choice; such training takes three to five years.
Funding for ROME is made possible through the Office of the Dean at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
-- Shelley Pohlman, Asst. to the Director, Public Affairs, email@example.com, 701-777-4305