Rural Physicians Mentor UA Medical Students in Communities Throughout Arizona

Program encourages graduates to practice primary care in rural areas; four- to six-week mentorships from June through August 8
More physicians are practicing in rural Arizona thanks to a select group of physicians who volunteer for four to six weeks each summer to mentor medical students from the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
 
The physicians are rural faculty members in the UA College of Medicine’s Rural Health Professions Program (RHPP), established in 1997 by the Arizona Legislature to encourage medical school graduates to practice medicine in rural communities.
 

Some preceptor comments about their medical students:

 
“… enthusiastic, relates well to staff and patients and has the integrity and maturity to make a wonderful physician.”
 
 “…an excellent student advanced for her level in training and a pleasure to work with!” 
 
Every summer for the past 15 years, the physicians have volunteered as preceptors – or mentors – to UA medical students between their first and second years of medical school. Several of the physicians are UA College of Medicine graduates who participated in RHPP as medical students and now are serving as RHPP mentors.

 The medical students work for four to six weeks in June and July with the physicians at their practice sites and reside in their communities. Students are matched with preceptors based on medical specialty interest and community preference. Physician specialties include family practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology and surgery. The students will continue to work with their preceptors over the course of their three remaining years of medical training, returning to the rural communities in their third and fourth years.

Forty-six rural communities are participating in RHPP, and additional sites will be selected throughout the state. Communities hosting students this summer include:
 
  • Chinle: Melissa Lee, MD, medicine/pediatrics, mentoring Shana Semmens, of Tempe, June 6-July 8.
 
Dr. Lee has been an RHPP preceptor since 2007.
 
Shana is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Cibecue/Whiteriver: Steven Savoia, MD, internal medicine, mentoring Wes Anderson, of Phoenix, June 13-July 15.
 
Dr. Savoia has been an RHPP preceptor since 1998.
 
Wes is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Cottonwood: Wendy Tuccille, MD, pediatrics, mentoring Nataly Vadasz, of Flagstaff (originally from South Africa), June 6-July 8.
 
Dr. Tucille has been an RHPP preceptor since 2004.
 
Nataly is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Douglas: April Alvarez-Corona, MD, pediatrics, mentoring Caleb Holtzer, of Fort Collins, Colo. (originally from LaPorte, a small town in Colorado, and who has lived in rural areas in southern Africa, Bolivia and the Amazon), June 20-July 15.
 
Dr. Alvarez-Corona is a 2006 graduate of the UA College of Medicine, where she also completed her residency in pediatrics in 2009.
 
Caleb is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Flagstaff:
 
·       Cynthia Martin, MD ,internal medicine/pediatrics, and Andrew Martin, MD, family medicine, mentoring Erik Smith, of Fort Collins, Colo., July 5-29.
 
Drs. Cynthia and Andrew Martin have been RHPP preceptors since 2008.
 
Erik is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
·       John Mauk, MD, and Neal Mogk, MD, both family medicine, mentoring Elisa Rogowitz, of Flagstaff, June 27-July 22.
 
Drs. Mauk and Mogk are serving as RHPP preceptors for the first time.
 
Elisa is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Grand Canyon: Angelica Macias, MD, family medicine, mentoring Zachary Orman, of Murphys, Calif., June 6-July 1.
 
Dr. Macias is serving as an RHPP preceptor for the first time.
 
Zachary is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Kingman: Kenneth Jackson, MD, family medicine, mentoring Nourhan Mustafa, of Kingman, June 6-July 8.
 
Dr. Jackson has been an RHPP preceptor since 2005.
 
Nourhan is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Polacca: Jon Stucki, MD, family medicine, mentoring Elizabeth Dupuy, of Phoenix, June 6-July 8.
 
Dr. Stucki has been an RHPP preceptor since 2009 and is a 2004 graduate of the UA College of Medicine.
 
Elizabeth is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Prescott:
 
·       Matthew Hinton, MD, pediatrics, mentoring Julie Dark, of Great Falls, Mont., June 13-July 8.
 
Dr. Hinton has been an RHPP preceptor since 2007 and also is a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics with the UA College of Medicine. A 2001 graduate of the UA College of Medicine, he joined the practice where he was mentored as a medical student in the RHPP.
 
Julie is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
·       Jeffrey Osburn, MD, obstetrics and gynecology, mentoring Laurel Cox, who grew up outside the United States in rural areas of China and Kuwait), June 6-July 15.
 
Dr. Osburn has been an RHPP preceptor since 2007. He is a 1994 graduate of the UA College of Medicine and is a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology with the College.
 
Laurel is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Safford: Gail Guerrero, MD, family medicine, mentoring Ashley Bartholomew, of Chandler, June 6-July 1.
 
Dr. Guerrero has been an RHPP preceptor since 2005. A 2002 UA College of Medicine graduate, she participated as a medical student in RHPP in 1998 in Kingman, where her preceptor was Ismail Bokhari, MD. Dr. Guerrero, who also is a clinical assistant professor of family and community medicine with the UA College of Medicine, is in practice with two other UA College of Medicine graduates: Susan Jones, MD (Class of 1979), who also has been an RHPP preceptor, and Cathy Romero, MD (Class of 1997).
 
Ashley is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Sells: Susan Hausser, MD, family medicine, mentoring Briana Ketterer, of Tempe, June 15-July 27.
 
Dr. Hausser has been an RHPP preceptor since 2008 and also is a clinical assistant professor of family and community medicine with the UA College of Medicine, where she completed her residency in family medicine in 1990.
 
Briana is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Show Low:
 
·       Daniel Greco, MD, general surgery, mentoring Lev Korovin, of Phoenix (originally from Russia), June 6-July 15.
 
Dr. Greco has been an RHPP preceptor since 2006.
 
Lev is attending UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
·       Melody Jordahl-Iafrato, MD, family medicine, mentoring Brenna Derksen, of Phoenix, June 20-July 22.
 
Dr. Jordahl-Iafrato is serving as an RHPP preceptor for the first time, however she worked with RHPP students in 2010 in Polacca where she served for a year with Dr. Jon Stucki. Dr. Jordahl-Iafrato is a 2005 UA College of Medicine graduate who participated in RHPP as a medical student in 2002 in Safford, working with the physicians of the Gila Valley Family Practice, all of whom are UA College of Medicine graduates. She completed a residency in family medicine in 2008 at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix.
 
Brenna is attending the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix.
 
·       William Waldo, MD, general surgery, mentoring Rachelle DuQuette, of Scottsdale, June 6-July 1.
 
Dr. Waldo has been an RHPP preceptor since 2005.
 
Rachelle is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Sierra Vista: Jody Jenkins, MD, general surgery, mentoring Kimberly Yang, of Scottsdale, June 26-Aug. 8.
 
Dr. Jenkins has been an RHPP preceptor since 2003 and also is a clinical assistant professor of surgery with the UA College of Medicine.
 
Kimberly is attending the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix.
 
  • Snowflake: Dallas Peterson, MD, and Alan DeWitt, MD, both family medicine, mentoring Jurgen Weber, of Gilbert (originally from a rural area of Minnesota), June 6-July 1.
 
Dr. Peterson has been an RHPP preceptor since 1999 and is a 1992 graduate of the UA College of Medicine.
 
Dr. DeWitt, a Snowflake native, has been an RHPP preceptor since 2005. He is a 1999 UA College of Medicine graduate who completed his residency in family medicine at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix in 2002.
 
Jurgen is attending the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix.
 
  • Tuba City: Diana Hu, MD, pediatrics, mentoring Sara Seghezzo, of Phoenix, June 6-July 8.
 
Dr. Hu has been an RHPP preceptor since 1997 and also is a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics with the UA College of Medicine.
 
Sara is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Wickenburg: William Firth, MD, internal medicine, mentoring Joseph Chao, of Lake Havasu City, June 6-July 1.
 
Dr. Firth has been an RHPP preceptor since 1999 and is a clinical assistant professor of medicine with the UA College of Medicine.
 
Joseph is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
  • Yuma:
·       Roberto Garcia, MD, family medicine, mentoring Danniel Zamora, of Yuma, June 6-July 15.
 
Dr. Garcia has been an RHPP preceptor since 2003.
 
Danniel is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
·       Ricky Ochoa, MD, family medicine, mentoring Tomas Navarro, of Yuma, June 8-July 20.
 
Dr. Ochoa has been an RHPP preceptor since 2009. He is a 2002 UA College of Medicine graduate who participated in RHPP as a medical student in 1999 in Yuma with preceptor Roger Nutt, MD. Dr. Ochoa completed his family medicine residency at Phoenix Baptist Hospital in Phoenix in 2007.
 
Tomas is attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
 
Preparing graduates to serve the unique health-care needs of rural populations
 
“This program helps nurture students’ interest in a rural practice,” says Carol Galper, EdD, assistant dean for medical student education, UA College of Medicine. “Many of the students grew up in rural towns in Arizona and have a desire to practice in small communities, perhaps even returning to their hometowns. Their RHPP experiences help them understand the unique health-care needs of rural populations as well as strategies to address these needs, and help them decide about where they want to practice in the future.”
 
By working side-by-side with a physician – consulting with patients, discussing lab results, helping to diagnose childhood ailments, attending surgeries – students learn about the unique health-care needs of rural populations and how to meet them. By returning to the same community during each year of medical school, students learn to appreciate the area’s culture and community character and begin to experience the lifestyle of rural residents.
 
This year, 19 students attending the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and three students attending the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix were selected for RHPP, using a combination of funds from the Arizona Area Health Education Centers (the Arizona AHEC Program) and the state of Arizona. “With the expansion of the medical school to include the Phoenix campus, AHEC funding enables us to provide RHPP opportunities to Phoenix-based students as well,” says Dr. Galper.
 
RHPP students receive intensive preparation, including a course, “Issues in Rural Health,” covering health care and access-to-care issues, challenges of rural practice, referral needs, the impact of poverty and lack of health care, environmental health concerns, the influence of culture and the role of physicians in rural communities, as well as topics not taught until their second-year curriculum. This helps bring them up-to-speed and allows them to be well prepared for their initial rural rotation.
 
RHPP students learn how telemedicine technology assists rural physicians
 
RHPP students learn to use telemedicine technology in communities linked to the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), a health-care telecommunications network that allows rural physicians and patients to have real-time online medical consultations with specialists at the UA College of Medicine in Tucson. The system also allows rural physician-preceptors and their students to attend grand rounds lectures “virtually” at the UA College of Medicine. The RHPP course is teleconferenced between Tucson and Phoenix, with instruction originating alternately in Tucson and Phoenix.
 
Rural physician-preceptors enhance their teaching skills by attending faculty development and continuing medical education programs conducted by the UA College of Medicine. To minimize disruption of the physicians’ medical practices, the programs are offered regionally by video links provided by ATP to the UA College of Medicine.
 
Long-Term Outlook
 
RHPP students develop long-term relationships with their rural physician-preceptors, who act as medical and career counselors, helping the students make informed choices when they decide where they will practice medicine.
 
Upon graduation, RHPP students are more likely to select primary care specialties than their classmates: 79 percent versus 54 percent of UA College of Medicine graduates.
 
“We have graduates throughout the state, in places like Queen Creek, Yuma, Show Low, Pinetop, Sells, Fort Mohave, Springerville, Camp Verde, Nogales, Flagstaff, Cottonwood, Safford, Whiteriver, Sedona, Tuba City, Prescott and Prescott Valley, with more graduates returning each year,” says Dr. Galper. “It is exciting to see these physicians return to Arizona and to have them teach our RHPP students. RHPP has come full circle.”
 
For more information about RHPP visit the website http://omse.medicine.arizona.edu/educational-programs/rhpp