Students at rural medical school campus want to establish careers in small town communities

09/09/2016 02:08 PM

MADISONVILLE – Students interested in becoming family doctors in rural communities are getting their training in a rural setting, away from the University of Louisville’s main campus.

The University of Louisville School of Medicine Trover Medical Campus was established in 1998 in Madisonville to provide a first-class medical education in a small town in an effort to place more graduating medical students in Kentucky’s small communities.

Students go to the main campus in Louisville for their first two years before completing their studies the final two years in western Kentucky.

Thus far, 108 have graduated from the program, and approximately 60 percent have gone back to practice in small communities.

Samantha Hays, who is a third-year medical student from the tiny eastern Kentucky town of Gray Hawk in Jackson County, says that her desire to return to her rural roots to practice medicine dates back to when she was a young girl.

“I’d had multiple relatives in and out of the hospital and they’d always talked about doctors, and how they care for them, and if they liked the way they did it, or if they didn’t like the way the doctor treated them in the hospital, and it kind of encouraged me to be that doctor that people are like, I like the way she treated me,” Hays said.

Hays says that the Trover campus offers medical students a rare chance to learn in an intimate setting.

“I really think there’s a lot of one on one teaching here that you don’t get at a larger campus,’ Hays said.

Dr. Austin Beck, from the western Kentucky town of Benton in Marshall County, who is in his final year of residency at Baptist Health Madisonville, feels that his desire to return home and practice medicine is personal.

“I’m a strong believer in that the community raised me and the childhood and upbringing I had in a small town is really something that I enjoyed and cherished and I’d love for my family and kids to have the same opportunity,” Beck said.

Currently, Trover has a maximum of 24 students.

Beck says that the Trover medical students enjoy more camaraderie that students in other medical school programs around the country because of the small size.

“Being from small communities, we do have a little different background and we can relate to each other a little bit on that, and then when we’re here, it becomes a little bit of a team effort of everyone pitching in and getting through the clinical years of medical school together,” Beck said. “It’s really a personal relationship that you develop being in a small town with the people that surround you.


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