September 30, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 30, 2014 — As entry into professional health and medical schools becomes more competitive, a new partnership between Drury and Jordan Valley Community Health Center (JVCHC) gives undergraduates the chance to experience and work in a real-world medical setting well before they take that next step in their academic careers.
The Drury Health Service Corps places pre-health sciences students inside the federally qualified health center in downtown Springfield to work alongside the medical staff and interact with patients. This gives them valuable – and increasingly, essential – volunteer experience in a real clinical setting. The work includes helping patients navigate the building and sign up for the online patient engagement portal, as well as assisting the JVCHC staff with a variety of customer-service related tasks.
The Drury Health Service Corps seeks to go beyond a mere “shadow” internship and to truly place undergraduates in the midst of the patient-provider dynamic. It will help them cultivate the empathy, understanding and skills necessary to build relationships with the medically underserved, so that they are better prepared to become patient-centered health care providers in the future.
“Medicine is certainly a ‘people’ business and that’s something medical schools are looking for — individuals who are not only academically prepared but are able to go out and interact with people in a really positive way,” says Dr. Beth Harville, assistant professor of biology and chemistry and director of Drury’s pre-health sciences program.
“This is such a win-win for both Drury University and Jordan Valley Community Health Center,” said Dr. Chan Ngo Reyes, medical director at Jordan Valley Community Health Center, and a DU alumna. “It is so important for pre-health sciences students to get meaningful, first-hand experiences in terms of patient care and what it means to truly treat and help patients in the medical setting. Through their volunteer hours, Drury students achieve self-confidence in meeting and speaking with patients who come to the clinic, learn how to work effectively and efficiently with others to meet the same goals, and observe experienced medical professionals practice within a clinic setting.”
The partnership further bolsters Drury’s pre-health sciences program, which has a strong history of producing graduates who move on to successful health care professions in medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, pharmacology and more. Drury has partnerships that allow undergraduates who meet certain academic standards early acceptance to five medical schools – Saint Louis University, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, the University of Missouri and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In the last 5 years, approximately 90 percent of Drury students who applied to medical school were accepted. Today more than 100 Drury alumni are practicing physicians in southwest Missouri.
Mikaela Speakes is a junior biochemistry major at Drury who has already been accepted to medical school at SLU. Participating in the Health Service Corps is a feather in the cap for the St. Louis-area native.
“Professors try to teach you patient care in the classroom, but it’s hard – you really have to do it for yourself,” Speakes says. “You have to get out there and interact with patients. And it’s a great break from studying and class. It’s something different.”
Health Service Corps students work in pairs at Jordan Valley from 1 to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Each pair works one day a week, for a total of about 65 hours worth of work by semester’s end. New groups of students will work during the winter break and spring semester. In all, more than 30 students will take part this academic year. Media interested in covering the program can make arrangements through Mike Brothers, DU media relations director.