April 18, 2013
OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine bringing rural medicine message to state FFA Convention
Mercedez Bernard loves the windswept Oklahoma countryside. In fact, the charm of rural Oklahoma is one of the reasons this second-year medical student at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences wants to be a doctor in western Oklahoma.
"I grew in a small town where the nearest physician was at least 15 miles away," said Bernard, a native of Granite, Okla. and a former member of Future Farmers of America. "I saw the impact that lack of medical resources had on my community and I want to change that."
Bernard, along with a group of fellow OSU medical students, will join Dr. Kayse Shrum, provost of OSU-CHS and dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, at the 87th Annual State FFA Convention and Career Show at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City on April 30-May 1. Their goal is to get students interested in a career as primary care physicians in rural Oklahoma.
With the state facing a growing physician storage, OSU Center for Health Sciences is looking for students like Bernard who want to live and work in rural Oklahoma communities.
"Who better to take care of residents from rural Oklahoma than students from rural Oklahoma?" said Shrum. "These FFA students have a vested interest in the future of rural Oklahoma. They love the rural lifestyle, are dedicated to community service and have a unique understanding of their hometowns."
Bernard knew at a young age that she wanted to be a physician, but had many questions about how to prepare and enroll in medical school. Now as a student, she wants to encourage others to become physicians.
"I want to reach out to students who may be experiencing doubt about pursuing a career as a physician and let them know that people are here to assist them in the process," said Bernard. "While it can seem daunting at the beginning, being able to help and treat people is worth the effort."
During the convention, Shrum will present "Consider a Career as a Medical Doctor in Rural Oklahoma," a workshop to introduce students to the benefits of being a primary care physician in rural Oklahoma. Students will learn about OSU-COM's early admission programs and scholarship and financial aid opportunities to help fund their education.
OSU medical students will also be on hand to speak to prospective students and conduct medical demonstrations throughout the convention.
For Bernard, it's also about making an impact on the health of Oklahoma.
"By reaching out to FFA students who love rural Oklahoma and encouraging them to pursue a career in medicine and return to those areas, we can impact the health of tens of thousands of our state's residents," she said.