When Janice Spalding (’87) interviewed as a faculty member at Northeast Ohio Medical University, she was asked what her ideal job would be. She didn’t have to think twice before answering: “Caring for underserved populations and teaching medical students.”
Ever since joining the faculty in 1989 as a clinical instructor, then full-time in 2011, the professor emeritus of family and community medicine has worked with both underserved populations and medical students — what Dr. Spalding calls the best of both worlds. She played an integral part in developing the University’s NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health, a pathway that allows qualified students with a bachelor’s degree to complete a two-year program of pre-medicine science courses and urban health courses, before joining the College of Medicine program in Rootstown. And her work didn’t stop there.
Once the Urban Medicine Pathway was established, Dr. Spalding focused on establishing NEOMED’s Rural Medicine Education Pathway.
“The outcomes for people in rural health is so much worse than for the people than urban populations. Having medical professionals who are aware of what those problems are and passionate about caring for those folks is important. We want to be sure the students in these pathways are supported with knowledge, but also supported in their ability to maintain that passion around those rural populations,” explains Dr. Spalding.
Teaching and training
These days, Dr. Spalding finds herself dedicating a large portion of time to the College of Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, which houses the Rural Medicine Education Pathway.
As Dr. Spalding puts it, on any given day, she could be working with students across the entire seven-year span of medical education.
She teaches family and community medicine courses to first- and second-year College of Medicine students and helps guide third- and fourth-year College of Medicine students. Dr. Spalding also works two days a week at Aultman Hospital, located in Canton, Ohio, where she sees patients alongside family medicine residents.
Influencing and inspiring
It’s the influence on students that makes her job so special, says Dr. Spalding.
“I’m a very fortunate person who gets to work with these students and to see their growth over those four years at NEOMED,” she says.
In working with postgraduate students, Dr. Spalding adds her experienced perspective to the physicians’ plan of care for their patients. “I like bringing that perspective to residents because sometimes they’re so excited about all the medicine, medication and latest stuff — but you still have to step back and think about the patient,’’ she says.
“You have to go back to motivational interviewing, communicating with the patient, finding out what the patient wants, helping the patient come up with a plan and making sure that they address lifestyle changes with the patient as well.”