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Madisonville health concern's "High School Rural Scholars Program" strives to get grads into medical care fields, and then to return home to work

Madisonville Messenger, June 26, 2016

Program urges students to stay in community
By Jenny Smith

Dr. Lowman Trover had a vision when he founded Trover Clinic, which is now Baptist Health, in 1953. One of his concerns was that not enough quality physicians wished to practice in rural areas.

There are many programs in rural areas for students in the medical field, but most require students to relocate for six weeks during the summer to an urban area with a medical school.

The High School Rural Scholars Program at Baptist Health reverses that requirement by allowing students to remain at home to shadow healthcare professionals in their communities.

Trover's granddaughter, Megan Weldon, said her grandfather was always looking toward the future.

"His goal was to provide access to quality care to people who would not have otherwise had the opportunity," Weldon said. "I am amazed at the foresight and determination he had to make his dream a reality."

To date, 255 students have completed the HSRS program, according to a release. Seventy-five percent of those are now in healthcare-related jobs or training.

Dr. Jonathan Moore is an HSRS alumnus who is currently finishing his residency in Madisonville.

"My time with the High School Rural Scholars showed me the value of a physician to their community," Moore said in the release. "It inspired me to become a physician so that I could improve the lives of others."

In 1998, the Trover Campus was established as a branch of the University of Louisville Medical School. The HSRS program was established two years later.

Campus Associate Dean Dr. Bill Crump said in a written statement that he shares Trover's vision for rural health care.

"When I moved here 18 years ago, it was because I saw the potential to realize Dr. Trover's dream of 'growing our own doctors,' " Crump said, "but as we began, we just weren't being successful in getting students from the small towns in our area admitted into medical school. We knew we had to begin early to raise their expectations and sharpen their academic skills.

"When I had the initial idea for this program, we had well-meaning adults tell us high school seniors just aren't mature enough to benefit from such a program," he continued. "Our students have proven the concept valid, and I've been fortunate to see many of them develop into remarkable health care professionals."

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