OSU Center for Health Sciences Recruits FFA Students for Careers in Rural OklahomaWed, 02 May 2012 13:03:24 CDT
In an effort to address the shortage of physicians in rural Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences participated in the 86th Oklahoma State FFA Convention at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
Dr. Kayse Shrum, OSU-CHS provost, presented “Becoming A Medical Doctor in Rural Oklahoma,” a workshop to introduce students to the benefits of being a medical doctor in a small town.
She spoke with Ron Hays and says the need for doctors in outlying areas of the state is becoming acute.
“There is a severe need. Oklahoma ranks very low in healthcare outcomes. And one of the reasons why we were so low is the number of primary care physicians per capita is so low.
“In Oklahoma I say there’s kind of a ‘perfect storm,’ because we have more patients potentially having access to healthcare, we have an aging population, we have an aging physician population which is particularly true in rural Oklahoma. When you look at the average age of physician of primary care in rural Oklahoma, that’s significantly higher than what we see in urban areas.
“We already rank very low for the number of physicians per capita and when you look at the aging physician population, we’ve had circumstances where some of the physicians who are practicing in rural Oklahoma and they want to retire, but they can’t because they feel a commitment to their community.”
Shrum says the problem is ongoing and will not be fixed overnight. She says she believes high school students-especially those from rural areas-are the answer.
“I grew up in rural Oklahoma. We’re really looking for people who are interested in going back to practice in rural Oklahoma. The things that we know about where physicians will practice mid-career is determined by where they’re from, where they went to college, if their medical school curriculum focuses on primary care and where they do their residency.
“I really believe that students who grew up in rural Oklahoma are accustomed to the small community, they’re accustomed to living in rural Oklahoma, will be more comfortable and more likely to stay and practice in rural Oklahoma. And I think these high school students are really the answer to our health care shortage.”
Shrum says she particularly finds FFA students at the state convention to be particularly suited for careers in the medical field.
“I think FFA is a great program. They teach the kids a lot of great skills that are necessary to be successful in life. There are some really sharp kids here.”
The high cost of a medical school education can be a daunting obstacle Shrum says, but scholarships are available for students who will one day return to rural areas.
“There are opportunities for undergraduate scholarships through programs we are initiating like the early admissions program where we are identifying as sophomores in colleges and accepting them to medical school. And once they are accepted, we begin mentoring them.
She says those personal relationships with physicians and professors can make all the difference in students discovering a career in medicine and in persevering and one day returning to work in a rural area.
“Our mission at the OSU Center for Health Sciences is to create primary care physicians for rural and underserved Oklahoma. And we need to reach out and find those kids who are going to go back and do that.”
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear Dr. Kayse Shrum speak to Ron Hays about recruiting students to be physicians in rural Oklahoma.
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