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Published on November 16, 2017

Area Medical Students, Health Care Leaders and Lawmakers Celebrate National Rural Health Day November 16

MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot, medical students, leaders and lawmakers celebrate National Rural Health Day, November 16.In celebration of National Rural Health Day, Representative James Lower of Michigan’s 70th House District, visited with medical students and leaders at MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot to learn more about the Rural Community Health Program (R-CHP) that is helping to train tomorrow’s rural physicians.

Pictured from left to right: Julia Terhune, assistant director rural community, MSU-CHM, Midland Regional Campus; Paula Klose, M.D., community assistant dean; State Representative James Lower, Michigan 70th House District; Katie Young, MSU-CHM medical student; and Marita Hattem-Schiffman, president, MidMichigan Medical Center’s in Alma and Mt. Pleasant.

In celebration of National Rural Health Day, State Representative James Lower, of Michigan’s 70th House District, visited with medical students and leaders at MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot to learn more about Michigan State University College of Human Medicine’s Rural Community Health Program (R-CHP) that is helping to train tomorrow’s rural physicians. The National Organization of State Offices of Rural has designated the third Thursday of every November as National Rural Health Day, an opportunity to highlight the unique healthcare challenges that rural citizens face and to honor the efforts of rural healthcare providers and other stakeholders to address those challenges.

According to Representative Lower, rural communities in Michigan and throughout the United States are wonderful places to live and work as they are places where people know each other, listen to/respect each other and work together to benefit the community. “I love this community,” said Representative Lower. “Gratiot County does a really good job or working together and focusing on what’s best for the community and rural health care is extremely important as this community is all rural and our members need doctors just as much as urban areas do.”

One of the many ways that MidMichigan Health is helping to address rural healthcare needs is by partnering with area medical schools to train the rural health physicians of the future and by matching them with career opportunities in our communities. Michigan State University College of Human Medicine has been training rural physicians for more than 40 years, beginning with the Rural Physician Program in the Upper Peninsula. In 2014, the program was expanded to other regions of the state, including the MidMichigan Health communities of Alma, Alpena, and Clare through the Rural Community Health Program (R-CHP).

According to medical education research, the single strongest indicator of whether a physician will ultimately practice in a rural community is that they are from a rural community or trained in a rural community. Students are chosen for the Rural Community Health Program based on their prior rural life experience, interest in rural health, and likelihood of eventual rural practice.

“During medical school, our  students obtain hands-on clinical training at one of MSU-CHM's clinical campuses in Midland or Traverse City, or in one of our rural communities in Clare, Alma, Alpena, Pigeon, Ludington, or Charlevoix,”  said Julia Terhune, M.A., assistant director of rural community health, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Midland Regional Campus. “This program has already resulted in two students from the program signing contracts to practice medicine in the MidMichigan Health system in the future.”

The students on the MidMichigan Health campuses experience both urban and rural settings through our affiliated urgent cares, home care providers and community physicians.

“I am excited to go into rural medicine here in Michigan because I know I will be using my skills and passion to make a positive impact on the healthcare shortage my state has,” said Katie Young, MSU-CHM medical student at the Medical Center in Alma. “I love working with people and the challenge of working as a primary care provider for all age groups and, as someone who grew up in a rural town, I know how badly we need physicians. A small town doctor plays an important role in rural communities and I can’t wait to use my career to give back.”

Those interested in learning more about the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) or National Rural Health Day may visit www.nosorh.org. Those interested in learning more about the medical student program at MidMichigan Health, visit www.midmichigan.org/medicalstudents.