More than 100 first-year University of New Mexico medical students are in their six-week rural rotation in more than 30 communities throughout New Mexico, from Raton to Ruidoso; Shiprock to Chaparral. As part of their nationally recognized curriculum, the students are talking with patients and conducting physical examinations with guidance from their preceptors, and they are performing a community project designed to address specific community health care needs.
Through the UNM School of Medicine’s Practical Immersion Experience (PIE), medical students are placed in outlying primary care practices – predominantly family medicine practices, but also internal medicine practices and occasionally rural emergency rooms – to experience medical practice in New Mexico’s rural communities.
“The PIE is a unique component of medical education here at UNM, teaching students about varying cultures, patient empathy and the general health care system, while having a significant impact on where students consider practicing once they’re out of school,” says Daniel L. Stulberg, MD, professor with the Department of Family and Community Medicine and PIE director. “They can quickly become attached to their patients and the communities in which they work. They also each participate in community projects like Project Heart Start, the Childhood Obesity Zip Code Project, the Vision Project and other innovative programs that benefit local citizens.”
The University of New Mexico’s program for rural medicine has enjoyed top-10 national rankings by U.S. News and World Report over several years, and ranked second in the U.S. for the nineteenth consecutive year. UNM’s School of Medicine PIE Program is a six-week clinical experience at the end of the first year in medical school. During PIE, students work in rural communities caring for patients and evaluating their problems as a springboard for studying the sciences basic to medicine. Students also have the opportunity to view medicine from a community perspective and to experience the lifestyle of the community physician.
The UNM medical students are working in practices in Alamogordo, Angle Fire, Aztec, Belen, Bernalillo, Chaparral, Clovis, Deming, Dexter, Espanola, Estancia, Farmington, Fort Defiance, Gallup, Grants, Isleta, Las Cruces, Los Alamos, Pecos, Pojoaque, Questa, Raton, Rio Rancho, Roswell, Ruidoso, Santa Fe, Santa Rosa, Shiprock, Silver City Socorro, Taos and Albuquerque.