Medical students to shadow at St. Lawrence County hospitals

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Twelve medical students from SUNY Upstate Medical University will be shadowing doctors at Canton-Potsdam Hospital and Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center this month.

A news release from the Northern Area Health Education Center in Canton indicated that Upstate’s Rural Medical Scholars Program will bring six students to Ogdensburg from June 4 to 9, and six more to Potsdam June 11 to 16.

The students will shadow the doctors as part of the Rural Immersion Week program, meant to “gain an understanding of the local economy, recreational offerings, public health issues, educational resources, social influences, and many other elements that help define rural communities.”

During their time in St. Lawrence County, the students will “shadow and engage with a variety of professionals,” take part in EMS ride-alongs and community engagement projects, and meet local healthcare providers.

Dr. Carrie A. Roseamelia, Upstate’s dean of rural medicine and director of the Rural Medical Scholars Program, said that her students enjoy a lot of little things about small-town life during their time in the program.

“They really get a lot out of, say, meeting the town librarian or knowing where everybody’s favorite local coffee shop is,” she said.

Dr. Roseamelia said the students “really appreciate the intimacy that can exist between a doctor and patient at a smaller hospital that might not exist in Syracuse.” She estimated that about one out of every five of her students chooses to practice in a small town.

The current course offered by Dr. Roseamelia is for students entering their second year of medical school in the fall.

Dr. Gregory J. Healey, of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, said local hospitals “have been very supportive of the students, and even provide places for them to live. Everyone is very behind it.” Rural immersion programs have existed in the north country for decades, Dr. Healey said, and he noted that the students are usually most surprised by a few different things.

“They really do get a sense of how interconnected everything is in a small town,” he said, “and see how many people in the community can wear a lot of different hats.” Dr. Healey said that the students are always prepared for rural life, though.

“They really come into the program with open arms and eyes,” he said. “They’re very self-directed and independent.”

Local doctors enjoy being around the students as well, he said. “It really brings out their joy of teaching and helping, and they get to talk about why they love what they do.”

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