NORMAL, Ill. (AP) - Nicholas Weber asked Joy Longnecker about her chest pain and treatment, then checked her heart beat, breathing, pulse and abdomen to determine the source of pain.
He worked under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Keto, a resident in Advocate BroMenn’s Family Medicine Residency Program.
That’s because Weber isn’t a doctor - yet. He’s a third-year medical student doing clinical training at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Central Illinois physicians’ offices.
Since 2008, BroMenn and local physicians have provided clinical training for third- and fourth-year medical students under the direction of supervisory physicians and residents.
The little-known program has provided clinical training for eight to 12 third- and fourth-year medical students each year, said Dr. Timothy Buffey, BroMenn director of student medical education and program director for the family medicine residency.
“BroMenn is actively participating in preparing the next generation of health care providers,” said Dr. Todd Kettering, BroMenn director of medical education.
“This is a benefit to the community,” said Weber, a Bloomington-Normal native. “It draws people back to this area.”
Longnecker, a patient in BroMenn’s cardiovascular care unit, supports the idea.
“I think it’s very nice that they give them a chance to explore all aspects of the job,” said Longnecker, 64, of Atlanta. “I think he was very considerate in the way he handled himself and me.”
“This is a very necessary portion of their education,” said Keto, a second-year family medicine resident from Shorewood.
“I have found (the medical students) to be easy to work with,” Keto said. “They have an eagerness to keep learning and improve themselves.”
The clinical training has operated in the shadow of BroMenn’s larger residency program.
Future doctors spend several years in medical school, including classroom coursework and clinical work.
After graduation from medical school, new doctors complete a residency in their specialty and practice medicine under the supervision of an attending physician before setting up their own practice or joining one.
BroMenn began a neurosurgery residency program in 2002, expanded to family medicine in 2004 and neurology in 2013.
The programs were efforts to address the physician shortage and the difficulty to attract physicians to Central Illinois.
The neurosurgery residency lasts seven years; the family medicine residency, three; and the neurology residency, four.
Forty-three residents have graduated from BroMenn’s residency programs since 2002 and six have remained in Central Illinois as practicing physicians, Buffey said.
“Twenty-three are currently enrolled in all three programs and five will graduate this year,” Kettering said.
In 2008, BroMenn - in conjunction with Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine at A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Mo., - decided to expand its education to medical students.
The students spend the first two years at Kirksville for classroom coursework. The next two years are spent at clinical rotations.
Kirksville medical students can choose from among 36 sites - including BroMenn - for their rotations. Eight to 12 each year choose BroMenn, Buffey said.
A goal is for the students to return to BroMenn in one of the residency programs. Five of the current residents began at BroMenn as medical students, Buffey said.
Kettering said students at BroMenn have more one-on-one time with supervisory physicians and may be allowed to do more.
“At a big medical center, they may be among eight residents and medical students gathered around a case,” he said. “Here, at most, it’s a resident and a student. They get to see more, do more and have better interaction with the supervisory physician.”
Weber, 27, a graduate of Normal Community West High School and Illinois State University, liked BroMenn’s program.
“It’s a smaller program, so there’s more one-on-one time with the attending (supervisory) physicians,” he said. For example, he has been able to assist physicians during cardiac catheterizations and gallbladder removal surgery.
The one-month clinical rotations happen at the hospital and physician offices in a variety of specialties, including family medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, critical care, emergency medicine, orthopedics and neurology.
“They (students) come in and get excited about the most basic things,” Kettering said. “That gets you excited, too. When someone is learning something for the first time and you get to explain it to them, you are helping them to do their job better and helping to shape their career while it’s energizing you.”
Dr. Aaron Traeger, a pediatrician with Advocate Medical Group, invites medical students into appointments that can advance their education. He asks patients - or their parents - first. Most give permission.
“If it’s anything that would make the patient feel uncomfortable, we wouldn’t do it,” Traeger said.
After awhile, Traeger invites the students to get the patient’s information to determine what’s wrong and develop a treatment plan. Then, Traeger asks some of the same questions but probes deeper.
Recently, one student thought a child had a virus but it actually was allergies, Traeger said.
The student learned additional questions to ask. And the parent heard how Traeger drew his conclusion.
“It adds five to 10 minutes to an appointment,” Traeger said. “But our patients are so gracious. They know we are training the next generation.”
What’s the value to Traeger?
“By teaching someone else to do something, you are increasing your mastery of the information,” he said.
“Getting people (young doctors) into our community is the hardest part,” Traeger said. “If they come here as medical students, we are more likely to keep them. If we keep one a year, that’s amazing.”
Weber plans to apply for BroMenn’s family medicine residency program, then hopes to begin a family medicine practice in Central Illinois.
“I grew up in this community,” he said. “I think it would be cool to take care of this area that took care of me.”
Source: The (Bloomington) Pantagraph, https://bit.ly/2qpxHkk
Information from: The Pantagraph, https://www.pantagraph.com
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