Now in its third year, Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon’s ReConnect Scribe Program is delivering on its goal of providing future physicians a meaningful clinical experience in rural healthcare before ever setting foot in medical school.

AHECSW, in partnership with Umpqua Community Health Center, developed the program to give gap-year students (the period of time many pre-med students take before entering medical school, to focus on deepening their professional and personal awareness), a practical and tangible means of gaining healthcare experience by working alongside physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, medical assistants and other clinical providers and charting patient encounters in real time.

Unique to the ReConnect Scribe Program that currently has four gap-year students enrolled and employed at UCHC, is a focus on rural healthcare. Areas like Douglas County struggle to meet the demand for high-quality healthcare providers skilled to manage the needs of a complex patient population whose conditions are often exacerbated by social determinants of health like poverty, hunger and a lack of education.

“Our ideal scribe candidate is someone who was raised in a rural environment, understands the nuances and intricacies unique to small-town living and is interested in returning home or to a similar destination after medical school and residency to establish a career as a physician,” says Chris Guastaferro, executive director of AHECSW.

According to Guastaferro, the program is rife with benefits – for the scribe, UCHC’s clinic and providers, and the community.

Budding physicians gain critical professional development skills that prepare them for the next chapter of their journey to medical school and valuable patient-contact hours and experiences which are crucial to the application process.

UCHC’s clinic and staff benefit from qualified scribe candidates with a quick learning curve and desire to advance their clinical knowledge. And in the end, rural communities like Roseburg benefit by welcoming newly minted, homegrown physicians who fulfill a critical need back into the local healthcare delivery fold once they complete medical school and residency.

“AHECSW has designed the program in such a way that they’ve prescreened scribe candidates to identify those who have a strong affinity for returning to establish a career in a rural healthcare setting,” said KC Bolton, CEO of UCHC. “Our time with these future doctors who participate in the scribe program is really a year-long recruitment effort where we sell these individuals on the idea putting down roots here at UCHC and having a meaningful, palpable impact on the health of our community.”

Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon is a non-profit organization that partners with key organizations in underserved or unserved communities in order to improve the health of people in southwest Oregon.

Mark Tsuchiya is the Development Director for Upqua Community Health Center, whose main campus is on Kenneth Ford Drive in Roseburg.

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