“What I love most about NEOMED is that it feels like home,’’ says College of Medicine student AuBree LaForce. The very first time she visited NEOMED, she found what she was looking for: a close-knit community. And as a student in the Rural Medicine Pathway within the College, she belongs to another mutually supportive group. With the others selected for the pathway, she is motivated to serve a population she sees as ‘’very much in need of health care and improved access to care.”
LaForce has quickly familiarized herself with the Rootstown community as the M1 representative for NEOMED’s Student Outreach to Area Residents (SOAR) student-run free clinic. She has also jumped right in to join the Family Medicine Interest Group and the Pediatric Interest Group.
Actually, she got involved in community health care even before coming to NEOMED. As an undergrad at the University of Mount Union, she joined the health coach program through Alliance Community Hospital. Now, she can’t wait to start getting new patients to coach as a NEOMED member of the program this spring.
Coursework is her focus right now, says LaForce. But learning interviewing skills with Standardized Patients at the Wasson Center or by volunteering for the SOAR Clinic takes her the next step toward becoming a physician. As she puts it, “I cannot wait to put on my white coat and put all that knowledge to work and really start to interact with patients where I can truly make a difference in other people’s lives.”
Proud of the People
What makes LaForce proudest to be a student at NEOMED? It goes back to the people who so impressed her when she first visited. The physicians trained at NEOMED put humanity first, says LaForce: They care for people first and foremost—not for numbers and diseases.
LaForce was selected as one of three students from Ohio to receive a scholarship and represent the state at the National Rural Health Scholars Association conference in Washington D.C., Feb. 6-8. Learning about the political aspects of health care is just one more way she is preparing to serve patients in the years ahead.