Wells Students Participate in Rural Health Immersion Program

September 20, 2013

At Wells, our students understand the value of hands-on experiential learning projects. For most, this includes internships with professional organizations, off-campus study around the world, laboratory work, or student teaching positions. Our faculty and staff think beyond these established practices to bring new innovative opportunities to our students.

That’s a part of the thinking behind a partnership that brought Wells students Nina Daniels '16, Courtney Fesko '15, Emily Guzman '16, Alex Lamphear '15, Marisa Smith '16 and Luisa Suarez '14 to Clifton-Fine Hospital in Star Lake, N.Y, a small rural community in the Adirondack region, for a week in mid-August. The six students shadowed and observed hospital staff in a variety of departments including radiology, laboratory services, clinic, nursing, physical therapy and emergency rooms, met and interviewed a number of health care officials and providers including a flight nurse, the director of behavioral health, a registered dental hygienist, hospice director, and a county public health department official, and interviewed members of the local community to find out what health needs and challenges face the area.

The Rural Health Immersion Program provided immediate and long-term benefits to both sides—the Wells students earned experience and career preparation in an established, working medical facility; and a small, rural hospital received much-needed assistance with patient interaction and surveying the needs of the local community. Through their work with Clifton-Fine Hospital, our students are experiencing first-hand the broad range of geographic and cultural situations in which health professionals work.

This experience is also personalized to both student preference and the needs of the communities in which Wells students may eventually find themselves. Due to shifts in demographics, there is a rising need for dedicated health professionals and quality medical care in rural areas. At Wells, faculty and staff members are able to work with organizations in these communities and match students with an experience suited to their skills and interests. The partnership with Clifton-Fine Hospital is an excellent example of the ways that hands-on work is an integral part of a contemporary education.

We’d like to thank CEO Robert Seamon and his staff at Clifton-Fine Hospital, Richard Merchant and the Northern NY Area Health Education Centers (AHEC), Program Manager Erin Hildreth Atkins with Central NY AHEC; and Wells Health Advisors Eric Vaughn, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Lauren O’Neil, Assistant Professor of Biology Kristina Blake, Associate Professor of Psychology Deb Gagnon, Associate Professor of Mathematics Tom Stiadle, and various health care providers in the region for collaborating to bring this program to fruition.

Wells is currently pursuing similar opportunities with other hospitals, and we’re looking forward to hearing the details! Keep an eye out for more information on additional hands-on learning opportunities at Wells, or contact Experiential Learning and Career Services Director Eric Vaughn to talk about how you can help today’s Wells students achieve similar hands-on opportunities that help them put their Wells education to work and gain valuable insight and experience in the process.

Our mission is for every student to think critically, reason wisely and act humanely as they cultivate meaningful lives. On our beautiful lakeside campus, students gain the knowledge, skills and experience to create their own unique path.

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