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Crockett, Texas Builds Home for TCOM Students

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 General News J E 4
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FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 19 The town of Crockett, Texas, population 7,000, has demonstrated its strong support for the UNT Health Science Center's Rural Osteopathic Medical Education of Texas (ROME) program by building a home for the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine students who do rotations there.

Gov. Rick Perry recently joined state Rep. Chuck Hopson (R-Jacksonville) and other officials in the East Texas town to open the community's Rural Physician Education Center, a 2,800-square-foot facility that can house up to seven students doing clinical rotations and features state-of-the-art teleconferencing facilities so students can benefit from lectures back home at TCOM. The Houston County Hospital District donated land for the facility and financed the $210,000 construction costs.

Many ROME students have stayed in patient rooms next to a busy hospital helipad, with local physicians' and their families, and even in a children's home while doing rotations in small Texas towns and appreciate the new facility.

"The community of Crockett has really stepped up," said John Bowling, DO and director of the Health Science Center's Division of Rural Medicine. "This is a template for other rural communities in our program. The hospital district has made a significant commitment to show students that Crockett is a great place to live, practice medicine and enjoy a great lifestyle."

And Crockett residents benefit as well, said Ray Morrison, DO ('86), a local surgeon who has housed TCOM students in his home.

"We hope to gain physicians in this community who help bolster the medical community here in Crockett," Morrison said. "The students develop relationships early with patients they've seen, so they get an idea of how gratifying it is to become part of a patient's extended family, if you will."

The hope is that one or more of the students, having gotten to know the town and its residents, ultimately decides to practice in Crockett, said Morrison's partner, J. Patrick Walker, MD. The first class of students having participated in the ROME program will graduate this year.

"For any community, it's cheaper to build a facility such as this than to pay a physician's salary for a year or two and have them leave, as some towns have done," Walker said.

Walker pointed out that supporting physician training helps Crockett gain a reputation as a teaching center, and it inspires physicians to be even better practitioners.

"Virtually anybody will tell you that when you teach students, you do a better job of practicing medicine yourself," Walker said. "You perform at a better level."

Thus, the structure becomes more than home for student doctors - it represents an investment in Crockett's future health.

University of North Texas Health Science Center

The University of North Texas Health Science Center comprises the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Public Health, and the School of Health Professions. Key research areas include aging and Alzheimer's disease, cancer and physical medicine. This year, the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine was named a top 50 medical school in primary care by U.S. News & World Report for the eighth consecutive year. "Fort Worth's medical school and more" contributes more than $400 million to the Tarrant County and Texas economies annually. For more information, go to http://www.hsc.unt.edu/

SOURCE University of North Texas Health Science Center/Fort Worth
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