BVU Joins Local Hospitals for 14th URMED effort

(story by Tim Gallagher)

Two Buena Vista University students who completed the landmark Undergraduate Rural Medicine Education and Development (URMED) program in May relate how excited they are for a future in treating others thanks to their experiences.

“I’m grateful for how the medical staffs were willing to bring me into any situation,” says Kimber Sprout, a biology major from Sioux Falls, S.Dak. “Directly shadowing doctors gave me a newfound respect for how hard they work in delivering care to patients. URMED opened my eyes to how many different types of people a physician works with at any time. I also saw how rapidly situations can change.”

Brea Bendlin, a biomedical sciences major from Royal, was in the Emergency Room at Buena Vista Regional Medical Center (BVRMC) when a patient experienced a seizure.

“The medical team was so quick to act, and the nurses and physician communicated incredibly well,” Bendlin remembers. “It was amazing because they were teaching me and a medical student at the same time and they kept their focus on the patient.”

The URMED program rose through a partnership between BVU and BVRMC 14 years ago. The internship is awarded to select BVU pre-med students who have an interest in practicing medicine in rural areas. During the internship, Bendlin and Sprout witnessed a variety of clinical and healthcare practices at BVRMC and Pocahontas Community Hospital. Each student earned a $3,000 stipend from BVU and the hospitals to help them cover the costs associated with applying to medical school.

BVU has received substantial boosts to sustain the URMED effort from gifts provided by benefactors, including the late Delwin and Meda Otteman, and Harold Geisinger.

“Those endowments and additional commitments by our benefactors allow BVU and BVRMC to support, encourage, and challenge students as they embark on the early stages of a career in providing healthcare to others who reside in rural communities,” says BVU President Brian Lenzmeier.

“These students are gaining wonderful insight into the rural medical community,” adds Dr. Thom Bonagura, Dean of the BVU School of Science. “Our URMED program serves as a flagship of sorts to illustrate the quality and breadth of experiences our students receive in the health sciences. The fact students receive a stipend to assist with their medical school application process is a bonus.”

“I’ll use my stipend for school applications, which can be expensive,” says Bendlin, who seeks to one day work as a Physician Assistant. “I’ll also use those funds to pay for my GRE exam, which I’ll take in July.”

Sprout, who is taking the MCAT this summer, is grateful for the financial help in applying for medical school. She’s also thankful for time doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and others took in introducing her to real-work situations.

Doctors and staff members with BVU connections served as primary advisors, including BVU graduates Dr. Kyle Glienke, Dr. Lisa Shepherd, Dr. Elizabeth Dupic, Dr. Michael Dirkx, and Dr. Sabrina Martinez, who completed the URMED experience while serving as a staff member in BVU Admissions in 2011. Additionally, BVU graduate Katie Schwint, BVRMC Executive Director of Community Development, helps organize and oversee the internship experience.

“The URMED program is not only a great experience for the student, but also BVRMC,” Schwint says. “We are constantly striving to improve the patient and employee experience. Feedback from our URMED students helps us know if we are hitting the mark of providing a welcoming environment. It also lets future medical providers know that rural medicine is a great place to practice.”

“Everyone I worked with was so patient-forward,” says Sprout. “I saw the charting, surgeries, and how doctors communicated with patients.”

Bendlin, who seeks to become a PA, serves as a Certified Nursing Assistant at an assisted living complex in Spencer this summer. She’s also serving as a job shadow to a Physician Assistant in Laurens. Sprout, meantime, wants to serve as a physician in the future. She’s involved in researching hormone synthesis in an internship in obstetrics and gynecology in Omaha, Neb., this summer.

“I want to affect as many people as I can in a positive way in my career,” Bendlin concludes.

(pictured above…Buena Vista University students Kimber Sprout and Brea Bendlin completed the University’s Undergraduate Rural Medicine Education and Development (URMED) program in collaboration with Buena Vista Regional Medical Center and Pocahontas Community Hospital in May)

“I’d like to practice medicine in rural Iowa is it presents a unique opportunity to do a little of everything,” Sprout says.