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Paynesville Press - February 26, 2003

Students study at PAHCS

By Michael Jacobson

Four students - wanting to become a doctor, a physician assistant, a nurse practitioner, and a doctor of pharmacy - will spend the next 12 weeks participating in the Rural Health School at the Paynesville Area Health Care System.

Kyla Rice, a medical student from the University of Minnesota, Paul Mortlock, a physician assistant student from Augsburg College, Victoria Fenstermacher, a nurse practitioner student from the University of Minnesota, and Valerie Fitzharris, a pharmacy student from the University of Minnesota will spend the next 12 Tuesdays in a rural interdisciplinary educational program funded by the University of Minnesota. The Rural Health School recruits students from a variety of academic institutions and disciplines at seven rural sites: Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Moose Lake, New Ulm, Paynesville, Staples, and Willmar.

Through the Rural Health School, students participate in a variety of hands-on educational experiences such as interdisciplinary case studies, community-based learning, telemedicine technology, and a community service learning project. The local students are interested in doing a project involving health issues for teens or adolescents, possibly something preventative.

From left, students Victoria Fenstermacher, Valerie Fitzharris, and Paul Mortlock are participating in a 12-week session of the Rural Health School at the Paynesville Area Health Care System. Also participating, but not pictured, is medical student Kyla Rice.

Rice is spending nine months at PAHCS through the Rural Physician Associate Program, which places medical students in rural health care facilities for their third year of medical school. Rice, from St. Paul, will be at PAHCS until next June. She has another year of medical school after that.

Mortlock, from Spokane, Wash., is in his second year of the three-year physician assistant program at Augsburg College. He is spending six months at PAHCS, completing rounds in emergency medicine, family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, and pediatrics. He will be here until June and graduates in May 2004.

Fenstermacher, who lives in Zimmerman, is doing her clinical experience in Cambridge and Spring Lake Park. She will be at PAHCS only for the Rural Health School on Tuesdays.

Fitzharris, originally from St. Cloud, is spending four months at PAHCS, working in the pharmacy for the nursing homes and hospital and eventually doing rounds with clinic patients. She will leave in May and graduate as a doctor of pharmacy.

A couple new features of the RHS program this time, according to local coordinator Todd Lemke, a Pharm.D. for PAHCS and former RHS student himself, are health panels with groups of area residents (farmers, young mothers, etc.) and skill sessions to share expertise.

The Paynesville Area Health Care System has hosted 30 RHS students over the past five years.

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