LUCOM student-doctors visit school system for community outreach, offer physical exams for athlete eligibility
On Friday, Aug. 5, 24 student-doctors from the Class of 2019 took a break from studying to support the students of a Lynchburg, Va., Christian school, New Covenant Schools, and to gain practical patient care and interaction experience. The purpose of the community outreach was to perform pre-performance physical exams on middle and high school student-athletes to establish their eligibility to participate on scholastic athletic teams during the upcoming school year.
More than 85 student-athletes received pre-participation physical examinations from the student-doctors under the supervision of LUCOM faculty during the four-hour clinic, including documentation of blood pressure, height, weight, and vision examinations. “The experience gained by LUCOM student-doctors was immeasurable,” said Michael G. Hueber, D.O., Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine. “One-on-one time with a doctor and a patient at the beginning of your second year of medical school is both valuable and rare.”
Anyone younger often feels nervous during a doctor’s visit and the student doctors were no exception. While a little intimidating, this experience brought the student-doctors back to the basics they learned during their first-year at LUCOM. “I was nervous,” said Chad Pitcher, Class of 2019. “It has been a while since we’ve been able to do this, so there were definitely some butterflies.” The clinic served as an opportunity to help others and provided a service to the families of New Covenant. “I like caring for people and taking care of them,” said Pitcher. “I see it as a constant challenge to be a good doctor now-a-days.”
“Overall I was impressed with the student-doctors,” said Eric Gish, D.O., Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs. “They displayed professionalism and enthusiasm and it was noticed by both the parents and students.” Often enough, the demands of increased time placed on student-doctors to be in the classroom and studying becomes both exhausting and distracting from their passion to serve and improve the lives of others. The administration at LUCOM emphasizes outreach events such as the one at New Covenant to refuel that enthusiasm.
“This service project really recharged the student-doctors and brought them back into focus of why they’re in medical school in the first place,” said Dr. Gish. “It provided the opportunity for them to see what they’re working toward and how the pieces of their life and education can come together to form a big picture.”