Those were the words of Dr. Shakar Kurra, Fisher-Titus Medical Center’s senior vice president of medical affairs who encouraged Huron County students Wednesday as part of Health-Professionals-To-Be. The two-day program is designed for those interested in entering the medical field.
“It’s like Mother Teresa said, ’All we really need is to know someone cares about us,’” Kurra said. “The role of a caregiver doesn’t have to be a doctor necessarily. It can be anyone in medicine.”
Fifty students with high GPAs from area high schools, including Norwalk, St. Paul, Edison, Plymouth, Willard, Western Reserve, New London and Bellevue, were hand-picked and invited to attend Health-Professionals-To-Be. Throughout the program the group learned about healthcare, interviewed with mentors and professionals in the field and participated in special labs, including a cadaver lab at the University of Toledo.
The first day was spent at the University of Toledo with hands-on interaction and the second day was spent at Fisher-Titus, where students had the opportunity to ask questions about the field or schooling.
The program urged students to pursue leadership roles in healthcare and then return to rural areas to practice.
“We have such a shortage of medical doctors and primary care physicians — family doctors especially — for rural areas,” said Eilieen Borchardt of Sandusky Area Health Education Center (AHEC). “We don’t have enough coming to rural areas. Our goal is to support and encourage all these students to learn all they can about medicine, wherever they want, then come back to their rural communities.”
Borchardt said AHEC, hospitals and schools want to act like a support group for the students.
“We have so many excellent students in rural communities,” she said. “Look at these students. They all have GPAs above 3.5 and they have a serious desire to go into healthcare. They’re bright. They just need the support. Sometimes money or lack of family support holds them back. We try to tell them, ’Please, don’t give up. Money should never be anything that holds you back. It costs a lot, but the money you’ll be making after you graduate will realistically allow you to pay it off in three to five years.’”
“If this is what their passion is, if this is what they want to do, not because of the money, but because of the love of the work, then we want to be their support, to encourage them to keep going,” Borchardt said. “The journey is long, eight to 12 years on average to be a doctor. We want to be there for them and we want them to come back.”
Borchardt said she hoped the program would help students realize whether healthcare was the profession they wanted to pursue.
“This program is truly an eye-opener for some of these kids and by the end of this, students will know if this is what they want to do or not and it will hopefully help them choose what aspect of the field they want to go into,” she said.
“Healthcare has really gone through a large change recently, so it’s a great time for students to get into it,” said Kurra, who presented information on cardiology and internal medicine.“
She added the industry is starting to ”focus on the quality of the care, how we deliver that care and the outcome. It’s no longer about episodic care but helping to maintain health in the community. That’s why we need young people. We need to raise awareness that healthcare really is a profession for those who care about other people.”