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Two MSU medical students doing rotation at Portage Health

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HOUGHTON – Medical students from the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Upper Peninsula Region will get a first-hand experience practicing rural family medicine when training alongside Portage Health physicians this spring.

Hauser_WoodsKahlie Hauser and Ryan Woods will be training with family medicine physicians David Kass, MD, Douglass McKenzie, MD, and Bruce Trusock, MD, at Portage Health-University Center in Houghton.

The eight-week Rural Physician Program (RPP) affords the medical students the opportunity to reside in the Copper Country in order to get a flavor for small-town living.

The MSU College of Human Medicine U.P. Region is one of seven campuses across the state providing clinical training for medical students. However, the RPP is unique to the U.P. campus. Each year, a handful of students are selected for the RPP, which offers enriched training to students who have an interest and passion for providing care to patients in rural, underserved areas. These students complete two years of coursework at MSU College of Human Medicine campuses in either Lansing or Grand Rapids before coming to Marquette General Hospital for their third and fourth years of training.

“Working with these students is a great opportunity for us to showcase the variety of medical cases physicians encounter while practicing in a rural setting,” said Dr. David Kass. “Additionally, they will get to experience the strong sense of community that is unique to rural locales.”

With the ongoing shortage of physicians practicing in rural locations, the program takes on an even more important role. These RPP participants have all indicated an interest in practicing rural medicine and it is the hope that some choose to practice in the U.P. upon completion of their training. Forty-four MSU College of Human Medicine U.P. Region graduates have gone on to practice medicine in the Upper Peninsula.

“They have been eagerly awaiting this rotation, as it gives them a chance to experience what it’s like to be a physician in a rural U.P. community,” said Patti Copley, MSU College of Human Medicine U.P. Region community administrator.

“But we couldn’t do what we do without the support of the rural physicians who serve as volunteer faculty. By sharing their time, wisdom and energy, they are investing in the future of healthcare in the Upper Peninsula, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of the key role these rural doctors play.”

The students will begin their rotation in the Copper Country on April 30. Two additional students are participating in the program, doing rotations at Bayview Family Practice in L’Anse and Aspirus Keweenaw in Lake Linden and Calumet.

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine – Upper Peninsula Region (formerly the Upper Peninsula Health Education Corporation) works in conjunction with Marquette General Health System to coordinate the training of family medicine residents and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine medical students. Since its inception in 1978, 219 medical students and 156 resident physicians have graduated from the two programs.

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