CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Research shows that most medical students will decide to practice medicine within sixty miles of where they received their training. A unique program being hosted by WellSpan Summit health aims to encourage medical students to consider practicing medicine in a rural setting, hopefully within the Franklin County Community.
"In this program, third-year medical students spend their entire year with community physicians in their offices and hospitals rather than in a medical school setting," explained Dr. Kanika Shanker, Pediatric Endocrinologist and preceptor for the program. "This program provides the medical students the unique opportunity to connect with the community at a very early stage of their medical training. Through the program, the students are developing long-lasting relationships with the patients they continue to see, and these connections could encourage the students to return to this community to practice medicine one day."
Known as the longitudinal integrated clerkship program, the program is an academic collaboration between WellSpan-Summit Health and Penn State College of Medicine designed to improve access to patient-centered high quality, cost-effective health care for local residents by creating an educational environment for training the next generation of healthcare providers.
"This program allows us to get medical students into our facilities and meet their potential co-workers in hopes of encouraging them to return," explained Niki Hinckle, senior vice president of physician services for WellSpan-Summit Health. "Our patients are at the center of every decision we make. We're excited for this opportunity and will continue to find ways to serve our patients well."
WellSpan Summit providers alongside Keystone Health providers are committed to delivering the best experience they can to the students.
"Those who are involved in the program are very devoted to medical education," explained Shanker. "We believe in the philosophy of giving the gift of education to the next generation of future physicians."
Dr. Laszlo Madaras, director of the WellSpan Summit program said the community has already realized benefit from the students.
"The students have not only received excellent education on rural medicine, but have been able to give back to the community through the experience, including the development of educational materials for patients with diabetes who cannot read," he said.
"This program holds extreme value to our community," explained Hinckle. "It could not function without the extreme care and dedication of our preceptors, who are working very hard to share their knowledge and experience with the students."
The program, which started in 2018 has continued to expand. For more information on WellSpan Summit Health, please visit SummitHealth.org.