Out of Alabama’s 67 counties, 49 of them could be considered physician shortage areas according to Dr. Gary Hill with the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine on the Auburn Campus. Hill said the lack of health care is not the only concern doctors have about the area.
“If you look at the state of Alabama, and look at those counties, you see Alabama is sometimes 49th in the many metrics that measure healthcare in the country,” said Gary Hill, Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, VCOM-Auburn.
The state ranks 50th in high cholesterol and 50th in strokes according to the americanhealthranking.org. Those statistics VCOM hopes to turn around by recruiting students they believe will go on to serve rural Alabama, especially if the students have ties to a particular area.
“So, people from those backgrounds, or have experience with, or have a desire too, are really key to our mission,” said William King, VP of Student Services.
All 162 new students will soon be familiar with a rural community, as they go through clinical rotations in their upperclassmen years.
“Being in those communities means they get to see the value, and the bond, of helping people in a smaller community who really need it,” said King.
For now the inaugural class is just busy getting settled into medical school and into the Auburn area.
“There won’t be a minute, they won’t engage, and be invited to participate with the VCOM family, and understand our mission to serve the state of Alabama,” said Hill.