Future physicians from Arizona, California and Tennessee have spent the summer in Payson learning about rural medicine as part of several mentoring programs.
Catherine Gluszek, a second-year medical student at the University of Tennessee in Memphis is working at the Christian Clinic and Banner Health under the direction of Dr. Judith Hunt. Jeffrey Robertson, a second-year medical student at the University of Arizona, is working at Banner Health under the supervision of doctors David Cluff and James Schouten through the Rural Health Professions Program.
Gluszek, a native of Chicago, wanted to work in a Christian clinic somewhere she had not been before this summer. She contacted a clinic in Phoenix, but the clinic didn’t need the help, so she ended up in Payson.
Payson Christian Clinic relies on the mostly volunteer efforts of doctors and nurses and other health professionals to provide medical care for people without medical insurance. Arizona has one of the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the county — and Gila County has among the highest rates in the state.
Gluszek arrived June 2 and will finish Aug. 1. Her work at the Christian Clinic included going into the exam rooms with the physicians and nurses, visiting with patients, taking vitals, shadowing doctors, assisting in some procedures and charting. Gluszek helped the clinic with the sports physicals it gave students in early June and helped make the arrangements for the 44 medical students that visited from Loma Linda University. She has also helped with patients’ spiritual health, she said.
Her goal is to be a pediatric medical geneticist.
“I’ve loved Payson,” she said. “It’s so safe.”
The love of the community has had to go a long way, Gluszek had only housing and a few meals provided, along with a small stipend from her school for serving at the clinic this summer. She is not getting any course credit, but she is getting plenty of experience. She has had hands-on work and the opportunity to observe cardiologists and other specialists over the summer.
Gluszek said working in the Christian Clinic was very rewarding, especially knowing that it was the only place the people had to go for help.
Hunt said she and the Christian Clinic are fortunate to have students come from all over to help throughout the year. She said she works with an average of 12 students every year.
Robertson is a Colorado native and attended high school in Scottsdale. He has been in Payson since July 1 and will leave Aug. 2.
He grew up in rural Colorado and he anticipates he will probably go into rural medicine when he finishes his school and postgraduate training.
He said one of the best learning experiences has been seeing multiple patients multiple times, and it has also been special seeing those patients out in the community.
Robertson said the opportunity to see patients more than once has been the most rewarding aspect of his mentorship.
Cluff has mentored medical students and nursing students from the U of A, Northern Arizona University and even from Nebraska.
He said Robertson is steady and more mature than most second-year medical students.
“I think he worked in the field in some capacity before coming to medical school,” Cluff said.
“He has a good idea of the whole picture,” Cluff said.
The doctor said the students absorb information like sponges. “They soak it all up. We expose them to things in medicine that are all new to them”
He said the students look at medicine with new eyes.
“It’s exciting to watch them grow,” he said.
Cluff said the U of A students have to apply to be part of the Rural Health Professions Program and so the community is seeing some of the brightest young people in medicine.