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Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 05:00 AM

Marshall Medical training ground for future doctors

Alabama is in critical condition when it comes to having enough doctors to serve the population.

Marshall Medical Centers is doing its part to alleviate the problem by opening its hospitals to train medical students starting next week.

“By offering our hospitals as training grounds for future doctors, we are doing our part to address the shortage of physicians,” said Gary Gore, CEO of Marshall Medical Centers.

Only 28 of Alabama’s 67 counties have an adequate number of physicians to serve their populations, according to the 2015 Community Health Assessment released by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Three students from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dothan will begin a clerkship at MMC July 27. The third- and fourth-year students will benefit from studying under and working alongside actual doctors while they are treating real patients. Another goal of participating as a training site is that some of the students will like what they see enough to eventually return to Marshall County to practice.

“This clerkship program gives students a chance to do a portion of their training close to home and allows them to become familiar with our facilities and our community,” Gore said. “At the same time, our staff members will have the opportunity to begin building relationships with physicians who may want to practice here when they finish their training.”

One person who knows exactly what that’s like is Dr. Lance Justice, of Medical Centers OB/GYN, who is MMC’s coordinator for the training program.

“It seems like yesterday that I was a medical student rotating for a month at Marshall Medical Centers,” he said. “One of the many reasons that I chose Marshall County to practice medicine was the love I felt from the community, as well as the knowledgeable medical staff and state-of-the-art facilities.”

Justice praised the efforts of the college and the hospitals working together to improve the availability of medical care to all residents.

“The affiliation agreement with ACOM is a win-win situation not only for the students but also for our community,” he said. “We have a very knowledgeable medical staff that loves to teach. The students will get a superb educational experience, and it will be a great opportunity for the community to get to know these students. I feel confident that once these students come to our community and our hospital system they will return here to practice once they complete their training.”

Sarah Senn, Director of Communications for ACOM, said each student is assigned to Marshall Medical Centers for two years where they will complete eight core clinical rotations.

“Additionally, they will have selective and elective rotations to enhance their clinical experiences,” she said.

This is the first time for such a clerkship at MMC, Justice said. The hospitals frequently have nursing students, but it’s a new requirement to have medical students shadowing doctors for all of their core rotations.

ACOM is a four-year, comprehensive osteopathic medical school located in Dothan, Alabama. The private, non-profit college was founded in 2010 to help address the primary care physician shortage in Alabama. ACOM is the third medical school in Alabama and the first osteopathic medical school in the state.

ACOM students spend the first two years of medical school on the college’s campus before moving to a core clerkship site for third and fourth year. During the third year, students will train in six core disciplines – internal medicine, family medicine, OBGYN, general surgery, pediatrics and behavioral medicine – followed by an emergency medicine clerkship during the fourth year.

In addition to Marshall Medical Centers, ACOM has core sites for student medical training throughout Alabama and the Florida panhandle in the following locations: Anniston, Birmingham, Brewton, Centreville, Decatur, Dothan, Florence, Gadsden, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Sheffield, Sylacauga, Tallahassee and Troy.

For more information, visit ACOM’s website at or Marshall Medical Centers’ website at