Program gives students firsthand experience in rural medicine

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Both doctors and students say they gain much from participating in a program that allows first-year medical students to observe the practice of rural medicine firsthand.

For the last two weeks, student Mary Coenen has observed M.S.K. Henderson, a Ferriday obstetrician and gynecologist, during her daily rounds.

She has been present at three deliveries, including two Cesarean sections. And she has gotten a better idea of what it takes to run a business.

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&uot;This is a really popular program, because it gives us clinical experience we normally wouldn’t get in the first year,&uot;&160;Coenen said. &uot;We normally have our noses in a book, and then the third or fourth year we’re thrown into the clinics.&uot;

For Henderson, the program &uot;is a renewal.&uot;

&uot;Sometimes after you’ve done a practice for so long, you get jaded,&uot; she said. &uot;But they get so excited holding a baby. … It’s just wonderful to see my practice through their eyes.&uot;

Coenen is one of two first-year medical students who are spending four weeks in Concordia Parish as part of the annual preceptorship program sponsored by the Louisiana Area Health Education Center.

Coenen, who attends the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, will &uot;shadow&uot; Henderson through June 29.

Alexis Fertig, who attends the Tulane University School of Medicine, will participate in the program through July 6 at public health units in Concordia, Catahoula and LaSalle parishes under the direction of Dr. John Naponik.

&uot;She’s on the move,&uot;&160;said Naponick, regional administrator and medical director for the Department of Health and Hospitals.

&uot;She’s at the LaSalle health unit one day and Ferriday the next,&uot; he said. &uot;Tomorrow she visits a TB clinic. The idea is to show her what public health is like so maybe one day she’ll want to come back and work in public health.&uot;

Coenen, a Rayville native, said she chose Ferriday because no obstetricians are currently practicing in Rayville – and because her boyfriend lives in Ferriday.

&uot;I’ve heard about how good this program is since I&160;first entered medical school, and I’m enjoying it a lot,&uot;&160;Coenen said.