The Journal of the Arkansas Medical Society Med Journal May 2019 Final 2 - Page 7

in the nation,” said Dr. Speights. “The challenges are great, and we’re not naïve to think we can go in there with a couple of outreach programs and truly turn things around. But we have to start some- where, and we have to start today.”  Some of NYITCOM’s work in the Delta happens through rotation and residency programs. Short of running residency programs of its own, the school supplies resources that support programs in its vicinity. “Through our partnership with Arkansas State University and our parent institution, we’re able to provide resources like access to online medical libraries, a full simulation lab, faculty de- velopment, graduate programs, and the capacity to host speakers and events related to specific resi- dency programs. We also support them by partner- ing with them on grants, scholarly activities, and research programs that align with our mission,” said Dr. Speights. Indeed, through a USDA research grant, NYITCOM partners with St. Bernard’s Inter- nal Medicine Residency Program, Arkansas State University School of Health Professions, and UAMS Family Medicine Residency Program in northeast Arkansas to deliver health screenings and health education to rural areas through NYITCOM’s Delta Care-a-van.*** The medical school feels a responsibility to provide vital health education and problem-solving support to K-12 and undergraduate programs and community and civic organizations. Toward this end, students are routinely sent into the community (classrooms, Lions Clubs, Rotary, etc.) to educate on topics like the importance of vaccines, hand wash- ing, physical activity, and the spread of disease. “We believe this is just one way that our students can start changing health outcomes long before they graduate,” said Dr. Speights. Now that NYITCOM’s inaugural class has en- tered rotations, students are experiencing firsthand the disparities of the Delta region and some are already committed to serving the region. Rotations are possible through relationships with roughly 150 hospitals, clinics, and individual physicians who provide training in the real world – a valuable step that helps students like Clayton Preston choose a path. “I did my undergrad in Jonesboro and estab- lished some roots there, so I had my heart set on staying there for my rotations,” said the third-year student. However, things changed during Preston’s rotation in his home town of Pine Bluff. At Jefferson Regional Medical Center, where he was born and had worked his first job in the hospital cafeteria, Preston felt a call to serve there as a pediatrician. “I’ve been exposed to so many cases that have pro- vided unique learning opportunities, and I’ve had a During a recent Interview Day in Jonesboro, medical students Megan Patel and Colton Eubanks explain how NYITCOM at A-State uses fully-functioning mannequins in their training. great experience in Pine Bluff. Things work out the way they’re supposed to.” Nothing can replace training that comes from rotations, Dr. Speights indicated. “Physicians – par- ticularly those in underserved areas – are truly on the front lines of health care – treating the sick, maintaining the well, and making a difference in the lives of patients and their families. Our students appreciate the education they receive by witness- ing that care that’s being provided. We make a concerted effort to rotate our students into areas like Arkadelphia, Gravette, Pocahontas, Mena, Mon- ticello, Crossett, and many others.” A New and Fast-Growing Medical School Affiliated with Arkansas Colleges of Health Ed- ucation, ARCOM is housed on 228 acres at Chaffee Crossing in Fort Smith. Founded in 2014, the school welcomed its inaugural class in August 2017 and is currently educating its second class. Each class size is 150 students, from a large-and-growing ap- plicant pool. Students are excelling thus far, with average MCAT scores of over 500 and an average GPA of more than 3.5. The student population is roughly 50% male and 50% female, with 15% underrepre- sented minorities. Around 65% of enrolled students come from within the school’s service area of Ar- kansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. Frazier Edwards, MPA, is the executive direc- tor of ARCOM Clinical Resources and Continuing Medical Education. He is excited to share that AR- COM has the fastest growing applicant pool of any medical school in the country. As for reasons why, Edwards points to the school’s “shiny and new” state-of-the-art facilities, faculty, and helical team- based curriculum. ARCOM’s mission, according to Edwards, is to “serve the underserved” and help solve public health issues facing Arkansas – specifically, physi- cian shortages. Authors of a 2018 guest editorial published by the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care touched on such shortages, particularly in rural areas of the state. “Several trends are driv- ing this shortage,” wrote authors Ray Hanley, AFMC president and CEO, and AFMC Board Chair Stacy C. Zimmerman, MD, FACP, FAAP. “An increased number of Arkansans have access to health care through the Medicaid-expansion program, Arkan- sas Works. Our population is aging, and the older we get the more medical services we use … an- other reason is more than a third of all active phy- sicians will be age 65 or older during the next 10 years, and many will retire.” Working toward solutions, ARCOM focuses on producing primary care physicians. “There’s a cliff coming,” said Edwards. “That’s why we’re here. We must start now to plan for 10 to 15 years from now. A student will go through medical school followed by residency. That’s a minimum of seven years and oftentimes more depending on the specialty. Doing this now will help lessen the cliff and ensure that we won’t go through dips in access or quality of care. In our curriculum, we try to ensure that stu- dents are aware of the need in these areas.” ARCOM’s third-and-fourth-year rotations al- low students to discover and learn from systems already in place. “We’ll send them to a large hos- NUMBER 11 MAY 2019 • 247