Students Participate in SOWEGA-AHEC Rural Medicine Program
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Students Participate in Rural Medicine Program


April 11, 2022

PCOM South Georgia medical students pose with AHEC swag bagsMembers of PCOM South Georgia’s inaugural class have spent the last two years immersed in rural medicine–from didactic lectures to clerkship rotations to volunteer opportunities.

Five students in the class also took on an extracurricular program with the Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center to further deepen their knowledge and experience in rural medicine.

Chizoba Akunwanne (DO ’23), Shelby Flowers (DO ’23), Julia Patterson (DO ’23), Miles McCabe (DO ’23) and Shelby McGee (DO ’23) are set to graduate from the SOWEGA-AHEC Scholars Program in April 2022 after completing 80 hours of didactic learning and 40 hours of hands-on experiences–in addition to their medical school training and education.

Southwest Georgia AHEC Scholars class photoThe program is designed to allow health professional students to become proficient in interprofessional education and practice, social determinant of health, cultural competency, behavioral health integration and emerging health topics.

According to SOWEGA-AHEC, the program seeks to develop, prepare and sustain an interdisciplinary, culturally competent healthcare workforce that is prepared to deliver high quality, patient-centered healthcare services and to prepare health professions students for practice in a rural and/or medically underserved community.

PCOM South Georgia students worked and learned alongside students from a number of health professions such as nursing and pharmacy. Akunwanne said that learning with such a diverse group allowed her to recognize how crucial it is to be a team player in her healthcare career.

“When healthcare providers recognize that they are an integral part of the overall health care team rather than just focusing on their discipline-specific role, patients’ outcomes will be improved,” she said. “Interdisciplinary teams should not replace the doctor-patient relationship, but instead it should enhance it and create a more comprehensive and efficient health care experience that is individualized for a specific patient.“

PCOM South Georgia students participate in air evac exercisesShe also said her experience in the program made an impact on how she plans to continue her training and practice in the future.

“It is my mission to become a doctor who practices in the underserved areas,” she said. “I will use the lessons I learned in this program to provide service to the underserved population and to foster the elimination of the health disparity,” she said.

Similarly, Flowers joined the program with the intent of practicing medicine in a rural area, and she said she’ll be leaving the program with a renewed sense of purpose and a fire to fight health disparities in her region.

“This program reminded me of why I really want to commit to rural health care,” she said. “Learning more about the social determinants of health made me realize the huge obstacles that our community members face. It renewed my drive to serve in these underserved areas.”

During their time in the program, students participated in volunteer work, conducted researched and focused on six topic areas:

  • Interprofessional education and practice
  • Social determinants of health
  • Cultural competency
  • Behavioral health integration
  • Practice transformation
  • Emerging health topics

Akunwanne encourages other PCOM South Georgia students to apply to the program, saying, “It will provide you with a great opportunity to successfully address and fully understand the determinants of health that affect your patient’s health outcomes. This program allows for an opportunity to not only expand your network and aid in your personal and professional growth, but also help you to become the person who is able to adequately advocate for your patient population.”

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  • About PCOM South Georgia

    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.

    For more information, contact:
    Jordan Roberts
    Public Relations and Social Media Manager
    Email: jordanro1@pcom.edu
    Office: 229-668-3198 | Cell: 229-873-2003

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