Area Doctors Aim Medical Students to Primary Care
May, Bill, THE JOURNAL RECORD
Journal Record Staff Reporter
Many groups throughout the state periodically call for help for specific industries, even asking the government and the public to foot the bill.
But a group of Oklahoma doctors is tackling redistribution of the medical delivery system in the state on a voluntary basis and is even putting up the money.
Well, most of the money. Corporate sponsorship and contributions will not be turned down, according to Dr. William Bernhardt of Midwest City and Dr. Mike Winzenread of Oklahoma City.
They are members of a committee of the Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians, which is trying to convince first-year medical students that there's more to life than huge fees and glamour of certain medical subspecialities. They, in fact, are trying to encourage students to select one of the primary care specialities for their careers.
"There are specialities and sub-specialities which pay more than primary care in monetary terms, but I feel we have more pay in terms of job satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment," said Winzenread, whose practice is at 4200 W. Memorial Rd.
It's this satisfaction and the interaction with patients which is causing more medical students to select one of the primary care or family physician specialities, he said.
"I feel that medical students today have more of a social conscience; they want to do the right thing and move into rural areas in which there is a maladjustment of health care delivery," he said. "There are a lot of students who are interested in our program, but they need help."
The program to which Winzenread referred is the Future Physicians for Oklahoma, sponsored by the Family Health Foundation of Oklahoma, the academy's philanthropic arm.
Under this program, members of the academy promote primary care, especially in the first year when students are considering a specialty to study.
Medical students are exposed to preceptors specializing in primary or family care between their first and second years of study and work with these preceptors, primarily in rural areas for the remainder of their medical education.
Highlight of the program is a special internship between the third and fourth years when students spend two months in a clinic specializing in primary care. During this period, the students receive a $250 per week stipend plus room and board.
Most of the funding for these stipends comes from the foundation, said Bernhardt, whose practice is at 2801 Parklawn Dr. in Midwest City.
Limits of the coverage are based upon the number of preceptors who volunteer and where they are located.
But the program is more than just the physicians involved in primary care and family practice, Bernhardt said. The University of Oklahoma College of Medicine is beefing up its family physician program and providing more information about the specialities to students.
"There are six divisions working to get contributions to help provide the scholarships for the students," said Bernhardt, chief fund raiser for the program. "We have (divisions for) large clinics, hospitals, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, foundations and corporations.
"We'd like to get more businesses and corporations involved, because one of the most important aspects of bringing new business to a community and to Oklahoma is the accessibility and quality of the medical care delivery system," he said. "That's probably the second or third thing that a company looks at when it starts looking for a place to do business. Most companies want to provide a quality medical service for their employees, and they want to be in a community where this is available.
"But in most small communities, physicians and the health care industry are looked at more as business operations than they are in Oklahoma City or Tulsa. …