North Carolina AHEC Program
fall 2011 newsletter | home

Osteopathic Focus Brings More Medical Students to Region

When Don Maharty, director of pre-doctoral education, and Saundra Stanley, director of ORPCE and student services, Southern Regional AHEC, joined efforts to build a program that offers osteopathic medical students an opportunity to work with physicians in the Fayetteville area, there was one thing they didn’t know. At the time, they were unaware that they were creating one of the most popular rotation requests for students attending the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM).

VCOM medical student with Dr. Maharty

Don Maharty, DO, (far right) with students from the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The program grew from two to nine students last year. And this year, it has expanded to include fourth-year visiting students. Many of the same students who came during their third year are back for fourth-year rotations. “There are several reasons why I wanted to come back,” said James Lester, a fourth-year osteopathic student at VCOM, who came for the first time last year. “I really enjoyed the experience. It was an organized, smooth transition and both Dr. Maharty and Mrs. Stanley were easy to work with.”

James said his experiences last year makes him look forward to his rotations even more this year because everything is familiar to him, and he has a specific goal in mind. “I know how to get around town, I know who the health care professionals are, but most of all, “ he said, “I am interested in the family medicine residency program at Southern Regional AHEC. It seems like a great place to finish up.” This future osteopathic physician plans to pursue family medicine as his career, but is not sure if he will ultimately choose rural medicine with a small practice or make urban house calls.

Like James, new third-year students say they were excited about coming to Fayetteville. They knew they were coming to a place where their colleagues have told them they will have their best rotations. “Students from last year told us they had great preceptors and good coordination from Dr. Maharty and Mrs. Stanley,” the new students voiced on their first day of orientation. “We look forward to all of our rotations and we are especially excited about being in the ER over at Cape Fear Valley because we will be exposed to a variety of trauma and health issues from the diverse population here,” said Jordan Hylton, a third-year VCOM student.

While the students are excited about their rotations, they are also looking forward to some local outdoor adventure, too. The VCOM students are planning their first group trip, soon, to the ZipQuest Waterfall and Treetop Canopy Tour.