Ashley Albertson knows the moment that sparked her career decision.
In high school, she took an anatomy class and the instructor handed out a college level anatomy textbook. She devoured its contents and she remembers being enthralled by the description of the human kidney.
“Everyone thinks the heart is amazing, but I was fascinated with the kidneys,” she says with a laugh. “I knew then I wanted to do something scientific that had to do with the human body.”
She joined a mini-medical school program at the University of Missouri-Columbia and by her junior year in high school, she had decided to attend medical school at MU.
Now, she’s among the first group of MU medical students being trained at CoxHealth through the University of Missouri-Columbia’s clinical campus here in Springfield. Since this summer, students in their third and fourth years of medical school have been doing rotations in a variety of specialties alongside CoxHealth physicians.
The partnership is giving students a firsthand look at the practice of medicine and it’s giving physicians and staff a chance to fulfill our academic medicine strategy by sharing their knowledge with students.
For student Scott Miller, working in the hospital has been an eye-opening opportunity to see what life as a physician will be like, beyond school.
“Medicine is such a team effort and we really see that here. We’re getting teaching from a lot of players on that team and that’s important for our development,” Miller says. “We want and need to learn from everyone. From physicians to nurses to respiratory therapists – everyone has something to teach us. People have been doing this for a long time and their willingness to pass along their knowledge is invaluable for us.”
The small size of the group allows students to work directly with CoxHealth physicians, which students cite as a key benefit of the program.
“It’s priceless for us, just to be able to spend time with physicians and talk with them about patients and the plan of care, but also about their lives. About their specialty decisions and about what they see every day,” Miller says. “We’re so appreciative of them giving us that time.”
Albertson says that access has given her a new perspective. Before her surgery rotation, she wasn’t sure surgery was an area she was interested in. Staff and physicians were so excited to have her on board, they made sure she got to see the most interesting cases coming through the OR.
“Everyone was very receptive to having us, they would say, ‘this is cool, you have to see this,’” she says. “I got to be up at the front and seeing things happen. At a larger institution there are so many people, it can be tough to get that close-up view.”
The students say the first-hand experience is key to making the best decisions about their future. The education they’re receiving here at CoxHealth will play a major role in the providers they become.
Albertson is currently planning to pursue rural practice and Miller is keeping his options open on choosing a specialty.
“You can get a feel for the specialty and you can see the roadblocks and challenges in each one. It helps you find what’s the best fit for you,” Miller says. “Every day I realize this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
A custom ‘den’ for MU medical students opens in Wheeler
The new MU Clinical Campus site at CoxHealth is now open in the lower level of Wheeler Heart & Vascular Center. The space serves as a home for MU medical students and faculty when they are on the Cox South campus. The room includes meeting space, private work areas and lockers for students. The renovations were made possible by a generous donation from Bill and Ann Turner.