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Future doctors learn about medicine, people, policy

(Source: KAIT-TV) (Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV) (Source: KAIT-TV)

A group of students at Arkansas State University had the opportunity Wednesday to put down their books and learn from professionals.

Osteopathic Family Medicine Physician in Jonesboro and Assistant Dean for Clinical Education at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Amanda Deel, said Wednesday was D.O. Day.

“It is a day where we stop classes,” Dr. Deel said. “We let students know it’s not enough just to be a physician anymore. You have to be an advocate for your patient. You have to be an advocate for change, for policy change. And when it involves policy that affects your healthcare. . .whether access to it, who you can treat, how you can treat them. That needs to have physicians at the table making those decisions.”

Second-year medical student Landon McNeely said getting to listen to and speak with practicing medical professionals is a big deal.

“We want to talk about health policy and get people involved,” McNeely said. “How the healthcare community looks outside the clinic or the hospital. And this is a chance for us to work with local physicians and people who are in clinics. And they can come in and tell us how that works in their practice. Cause we talk about it in theory, but they’re doing it in practice. Bringing them in is a big deal.”

Osteopathic physician Dr. William Hurst with St. Bernards First Care Clinic spoke to students at D.O. Day.

Hurst said he spoke to students about patients who have no medical insurance.

“I spoke to people today,” Dr. Hurst said. “I talked about a local entity called the Church Health Center. This is a place where people who don’t have access to medical care and don’t have any form of insurance can get access into the medical system. We were glad to get to share this with the students about this local ministry and about other ministries that are overseas.”

McNeely said learning what it’s like outside their classroom is invaluable.

“We live in a bubble,” McNeely said. “We may study twelve or fourteen hours a day, which is great because there are things that we need to know and we will need to know them for patients. But the people coming in from outside is what gives us context.”

Dr. Deel said they want their students to get a true picture of what it’s like so they’re prepared.

“People come into medicine to help people,” Dr. Deel said. “That is the hallmark of any physician that comes into medicine. They want to help people. And we want to let them know it’s not just the person in front of you that you are taking care of for their cold or cancer or for the surgery they’re about to do on them. It is how does that patient access care? How does that patient access insurance? How do we get their medications? What facility can they go to? What is around them? Not only that, but what affects them?”

Dr. Deel said they want these future doctors to know the change they can evoke for the better.

“We tell the students as they see patients,” Dr. Deel said. “When they see a need their patients have. . .then they can affect a change in how that patient is able to access care. Or how that patient can have their lives made better. We want to empower our students to know that they can affect change.”

Dr. Hurst said he was pleased with what he saw happening in the program with the medical students.

“I think most medical students know more than I do,” Dr. Hurst said. “They fill their heads with all kinds of statistics and facts. I think they’re clearly getting more exposure. And I think teaching just gets better and better. This is where Dr. Speights and Dr. Deel do an excellent job.”

Dr. Deel said they also had several local nonprofit organizations send a representative to explain to students the charitable work they could get involved in.

“We also had organizations come and be represented,” Dr. Deel said. “Organizations our students can be involved in while they’re in medical school. So, we had the local Food Bank, the NEA Charitable Foundation, and CASA was here. We had local entities here that our students can go and be a part of right now and make a difference in their community. We want our students to strive to be a part of their community and be servant leaders within their medical education and practice.”

All the medical students participated in D.O. Day.

They were either learning from medical professionals at ASU or in Little Rock, hearing from local legislatures and policy influencing individuals.

For more information about NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at ASU, click here.

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