CVMC welcomes new group of medical students
by Emily McLain
Coosa Valley Medical Center in Sylacauga welcomed a group of medical students this week that will train under its physicians for the next two years.

The three students, all from William Carey College of Osteopathic Medicine in Mississippi, were brought to CVMC through the Alabama Medical Educational Consortium, a program that encourages students from around the country to practice medicine in rural Alabama communities.

“The beauty of a small community hospital is you have one-on-one between the physician and a student,” medical student director Dr. Mamoun Pacha said. “We have a family-type relationship that is really beneficial to help students learn how to deal with their own practice.”

This is the hospital’s fourth year to participate in AMEC, having trained about 20 students thus far. While there, students are exposed to the full array of medical services to help them select a specialty before progressing to a residency. Pacha said all of CVMC’s students have secured “an excellent spot for residency, which is a testament to the good outcomes we have.”

Student Tiffany Postell, who attends DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, of Montgomery has been at CVMC for one year already through AMEC and said working in a smaller hospital has given her an advantage some of over her peers.

“I have had more opportunities here as opposed to students at higher academic centers,” she said. “I get more hands-on involvement, and I’ve been able to develop my clinical skills in a variety of concentrations.”

New medical students are: Heather Burt of Carmel, Ind., and Thomasville, N.C.; Dena Thompson of Clyde, N.C.; and Matthew Snead of Boaz. Pacha said their presence in the hospital is a “win-win situation.”

“The students are reading and discussing things with the physician, which helps them to stay updated as well as the nurses and other staff,” he said. “It brings such a nice, positive attitude to everybody, because you are teaching and learning at the same time at every level. It all comes together.”

CVMC Chief Business Development Officer Vanessa Green said AMEC students are an integral part of the hospital’s long-term vision.

“This is a Coosa Valley Medical community strategy to make sure we are continuing to grow the right physician population, not just for this community, but for 10 and 20 years from now,” Green said. “I think it’s phenomenal that we have physicians and administration that is preparing for tomorrow to bring a good selection of physicians to the community. When we bring these students here for a year or two years, it’s our opportunity to get them to want to come back here to practice medicine. That’s the mission for the whole thing.”

These students will be the last from the AMEC program, however, as it has evolved into something much bigger, Pacha explained. Beginning in 2015, students will come to CVMC from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dothan, a joint venture between AMEC, Troy University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of West Florida, and many other hospitals throughout Alabama. The state-of-the-art facility opened in July to its first class of 162 students, which includes Pacha’s son Faris.

“This has been very exciting, and we have become a major partner with ACOM,” Pacha said. “This is something that is going to help the shortage in primary care physicians. If you go to a big city, you will have 300 physicians in one town, and you drive 30 miles out, and there’s nobody. We’re trying to change that.”

One of 29 osteopathic colleges in the nation, ACOM is the first in Alabama and the first to share its campus with a regional medical center.

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© 2013