Future rural physicians get on-site training

If student doctors want to be prepared to serve in a rural area, they must understand how the residents work and play in that community. In March, 13 first-year students in Rural Osteopathic Medicine Education (ROME) traveled more than 100 miles north to experience first-hand how an osteopathic physician partners with a local employer.

John Bowling, DO, Professor and Assistant Dean of Rural Medical Education, said students benefit a great deal from spending time in a rural community and gathering information about its unique medical needs. On this trip, students visited the Red River town of Bonham, TX (pop. 10,000). Clayton Homes employs more than 200 people and is crucial to the community. Also crucial is the physician who looks out for those workers’ health and safety, Jim Tarpley, DO (TCOM ‘00). A native of the area, he has a family practice in Bonham and also serves as Clayton Homes’ occupational medicine physician.

"We got a terrific glimpse at life in a rural community and how a physician plays a vital role within it," said Russ Wier (TCOM ’16).

Wier will be learning under Dr. Tarpley’s supervision throughout the next four years – each rural student is assigned to a Family Medicine Continuity Site where he/she spends increasing amounts of time in the physician’s practice and in the community (see sidebar).

Other occupational field trips have taken ROME students to a dairy farm in the Central Texas town of Dublin and a cotton gin in Ropesville in West Texas.

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