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3 6 | L O U I S V I L L E . E D U Jones stressed the need for continued funding for AHEC. "The funding connects us with our communities. Without the funding, the program, education and activities tailored to these communities simply would not exist. AHEC serves such a vital need. The communities rely on AHEC for their community health education needs. As a university, we rely on the AHEC to provide the educational experiences for all of our professional students. It's so simple and so important to continue the work and grow it." A Different World It's not always an easy task to transition a city-based university student to a more rural setting for their AHEC rotation. Even if they would typically drive 30 minutes from their residence to the medical school downtown, the idea of living and working in an underserved area scares many students. But, once the students arrive at the AHEC rotations, they adapt quickly. "At first, when they are working with me, they are shell-shocked," said Kiser. "I know all the family histories. To me, that is family medicine. That's what makes each patient unique. I'm on my fourth generation of some of these families. If you just do clinical visits, you don't know their whole story. I hope when the students leave here they know those aspects are important to how a doctor truly takes care of a person." Kristin Cardona, 10MD, is a third-year resident and former AHEC student. "We work so closely with the physicians and it puts you on the front line and helps you understand where the patients are coming from," she said. "It's a humbling thing and a great overall learning experience." For the Pennington family, it is peace of mind. "We've been coming here 13 years," said Ray Pennington. "We're older and need someone to watch out for us. These folks are like a part of our family." "These students need this exposure," said Jones. "They need someone to teach them to offer service and engage in the community. Hopefully, because of their AHEC experience, they will return to those communities or at least have an understanding of what people in those areas face every day. Our focus is on the reality that drives us every day: We are here to improve the health care status of Kentucky." Trust and Experience After a morning of solving medical puzzles, juggling students and residents and seeing patients, Wright knows the value of the AHEC programs. "AHEC succeeds because we allow individuals to give at the height of their skill sets," Wright said. "We support our students and challenge them to be where they want to be. If they are passionate about it, you can't stop them in their service to our patients." It's a relationship built on trust, at all levels. "You've got to remember that Kentucky is not just Louisville and Lexington; it's county-oriented," Wright said. "You grew up in this county, your grandparents grew up over there, your best friend lives down the road. We like to stay close to our homes, where stories and family times — whether good or bad — are the focus. It's part of our culture — you trust your physician. No matter the ailment, or need for a specialist, they trust me. Our community truly appreciates the care that is offered here," he reflected. "Our students and residents take that with them for the rest of their careers. That is success defined." Following their AHEC rotations, 31 percent of recent UofL School of Medicine graduates plan to practice in underserved areas. U L _ 3 6 3 6 UL_36 36 1 / 2 4 / 1 4 1 0 : 1 2 A M 1/24/14 10:12 AM

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