MERIDIAN — Students at Idaho’s first medical school spend the first two years learning from textbooks. Years three and four are spent out in the field, doing clinical rotations.
“They always say that patients don’t present like the textbook," said second-year medical student Kiefer Starks.
Four weeks of those rotations are spent on psychiatry. Idaho lacks psychiatrists across the state, with rural areas getting hit the hardest. The shortage of care is something Starks has seen first hand.
"There's a lot of rural and under-served communities that just don’t have great access to healthcare, so that was what was important to me when selecting a school, was being able to be trained and have the knowledge to give back to those certain communities," said Starks.
ICOM has partnered with Pearl Health Clinic in Ammon, Idaho, for their student's clinical rotations. The clinic gives students that first-hand experience while addressing the need for psychiatrists in more rural areas of Idaho.
“Their physicians will work with students and patients and allow students to have access to patients with mental health conditions and learn about them, because a big part, especially if you’re in primary care, probably 30-40% of what you do as a primary care physician involves mental health care and psychiatric care," said interim dean Dr. Kevin WIlson.
Students will spend their entire third year living in communities where their rotations are, including the Treasure Valley, Magic Valley, and Eastern Idaho. The hope is more students will choose to practice in Idaho once graduation time rolls around.
“It’s definitely going to be more overwhelming to work in those rural communities, but it’s going to be more rewarding, too, because you’re able to go to these place that otherwise wouldn’t have the care," said Starks.