New UA program aims to help change rural healthcare

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 3:35 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 3:44 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - It’s no secret rural healthcare isn’t what it could be in Alabama: not enough doctors, nurses and even some hospitals have closed due to lack of funding. But a new recruitment program on the University of Alabama campus hopes to change the trajectory somewhat.

It’s the first of its kind, and with this inaugural class of 10 students, program leaders hope they will be the ones who help change the rural healthcare landscape in Alabama.

Maycie Edmondson has dreams of becoming a doctor back in her hometown of Slocum, Alabama, which is in Geneva County, a section of the state that’s rural, tucked away in the southeastern corner.

“I have a heart there and my heart is there, too,” said Edmondson.

Edmondson is the future doctor the Tuscaloosa Rural Pre-Med Internship program wants serving in some of the forgotten areas of the state.

“The program is, we’re looking for students from rural Alabama who are interested in primary care, the family medicine, internal medicine,” said program coordinator LaKeshia Whigham.

The summer program is new and it’s only for students who’ve completed four semesters of undergraduate coursework at whatever college they’re attending, maintained a ‘B’ average and scored at least a 22 on their ACT. Another requirement?

“They originally need to be from rural Alabama and they can go to any undergraduate institution,” Whigham said.

“I love the people part of medicine,” said Edmondson.

During the internship, students like Edmondson learn about the needs of rural healthcare, the daily life of a family doctor and a good understanding of what medical school is all about.

“We’re doing this because Alabama needs rural doctors. Plain and simple,” Whigham added.

Alabama is in dire need of quality rural healthcare, one Maycie Edmondson recognizes and a challenge she’s determined to conquer with a healthy dose empathy and medical knowledge.

“Just to help one person for that day,” Edmondson said.

In all the program is seven weeks; five weeks here at UA plus two weeks shadowing a family medical doctor in or near their hometown.


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