Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN) proudly announced today the first class of medical students from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM) who came to ECHN last July to begin their third-year of clinical and academic training will complete what the students and medical staff say was a successful and rewarding year for the health system’s medical teaching program.
As a result of the new relationship with UNECOM, ECHN became the state’s first teaching site for medical students east of the Connecticut River. The UNECOM campus is located in Biddeford, Maine.
The 16 third-year medical students rotated through all of the medical disciplines at Manchester Memorial Hospital, Rockville General Hospital, and ECHN physicians’ offices as well as community health centers in Manchester and East Hartford.
Over the past year, the medical students worked closely with physicians and medical staff from ECHN with a focus on family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology, pediatrics, behavioral health, surgery and other medical disciplines. The students were also given the opportunity to participate in enrichment rounds once a week that allowed them to do rotations outside their third-year requirements.
The UNECOM students attended didactics every Wednesday from 1:30-5:30 p.m., which included lectures, classroom instruction, demonstrations, and required student presentations. In addition to their rigorous coursework, students invested their limited free time in the community by volunteering at the shelter at Manchester High School in the wake of Storm Alfred; participated in a community screening in Glastonbury; and helped clean the Hockanum River by collecting abandoned tires along the river. Mona Doss, a UNECOM student in ECHN’s inaugural class, was a featured speaker last month at ECHN’s annual Healium Ball.
Students who graduate from UNECOM receive a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, or D.O., which means they are taught a “whole person” approach to medicine rather than specializing in one area of the body.
“ECHN is an amazing place for a medical teaching program because of our facilities, our medical staff, and our proximity to UNE’s campus in Maine. It has been an unforgettable year and just a start of something very exciting for ECHN,” said Dr. Patricio Bruno, D.O., Director of Medical Education at ECHN. “The students’ year-long experience working side-by-side with our medical team will hopefully give them incentive to comeback to the community where they were trained to practice primary care medicine. We are home-growing our own physicians.”
There has been a growing concern over the past several years regarding current and future shortages in the US physician workforce. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the United States will face a shortage of primary care physicians of nearly 46,000 by 2020. However, about two-thirds of recent UNECOM graduates have pursued careers in primary care medicine. US News & World Report recently ranked the University of New England fifth in the nation for schools that produce the most graduates enrolling in primary care residency training programs.
“These 16 medical students represent the best and brightest when it comes to our future doctors,” said Dennis O’Neill, MD, Chairman of ECHN’s Board of Trustees. “We look forward to building a successful medical education partnership that not only benefits the students and our health system but also the people in our 19-town service region who count on us for high-quality healthcare. And since millions more people will have health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, it is critical we have a new generation of trained medical students to minimize any shortage in primary care physicians facing our area.”
“I chose ECHN because of the excitement and eagerness they showed to host a medical education program,” said Benjamin Levy, UNECOM student. “The medical staff made us feel more like interns than medical students and as I complete my third year I truly feel that I made a difference in the care of our patients. Thanks to ECHN, I am better prepared for my fourth year requirements.”
“ECHN’s commitment to patient satisfaction and its dedication to providing high-quality healthcare as well as the advantage of being so close to home made my decision to do my third-year clinical and academic training here the right choice,” said Mona Doss, UNECOM student. “The countless hours of teaching and mentoring made me more confident in every aspect of being a medical student. ”
The next class of UNECOM students begin their third-year academic and clinical training at ECHN during orientation on July 31, 2012.
A farewell reception was held at Manchester Memorial Hospital on July 11.