Five students in the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program at PCOM South Georgia are taking the initiative to learn more about practicing medicine in rural areas with the help of the Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center (SOWEGA AHEC).
With a goal of improving the number and distribution of healthcare providers, the nonprofit organization hosts a two-year multidisciplinary program that gives students of different health professions the opportunity to practice hands-on training in a rural environment.
Chizoba Akunwanne (DO ‘23) said that the training she will receive during the program directly lines up with her passions and professional goals.
“I made it a mission to become a physician who practices in the underserved areas, to provide service to the underserved and to foster the elimination of health disparities. When PCOM South Georgia presented me with the opportunity to work with the SOWEGA AHEC, I decided that this program would give me the opportunity to reach out to the rural community in South Georgia where I hope to practice medicine. When I found out this program was going to provide us with telemedicine training, I was impressed. We are currently in a pandemic, and many physicians have turned to telemedicine to remain engaged with their patients. This training will enhance my professional growth and development.”
The curriculum includes 80 hours of online module course work and 40 hours of hands-on training. Participants will become certified in telemedicine and complete an Adult Mental Health First Aid USA training course. Over the two years students will cover topics such as interprofessional education, behavioral health integration, social determinants of health, cultural competency, practice transformation, and current and emerging health issues.
Since beginning the program, the medical students have completed learning modules on how social determinants of health impact population health outcomes.
Akunwanne said, “I am also looking forward to the farm worker health service project that I will be working on in October. I will be going to the farm with my team, and together we will be offering free basic health care to over 2,500 migrant and seasonal farm workers.”
H. William Craver III, DO ‘87, FACOS, PCOM South Georgia Dean and Chief Academic Officer, is proud of the students who have taken their learning into their own hands and outside of the classroom.
“These students are not only succeeding academically in medical school, but they’re also taking time to commit to external training that broadens their understanding of practicing medicine in rural areas,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of our PCOM South Georgia students.”
Second-year Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine students participating in the SOWEGA AHEC Scholars Program are Chizoba Akunwanne, Shelby Flowers, Miles McCabe, Shelby McGee and Julia Patterson.
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) extended its commitment to the Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia, an additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia. PCOM South Georgia offers both a full, four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit institution which trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields. Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state, PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the South Georgia region. The medical campus, which welcomed its inaugural class of medical students in August 2019, has received accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation. For more information, visit pcom.edu/southgeorgia or call 229-668-3110.
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