Crockett doctors hope house for medical students will encourage rural medicine

By Holley Nees - bio | email

CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) –Houston County medical students now have a place to call home and two East Texas doctors hope it will be an incentive for more students to practice rural medicine.

The program itself is rare.  One doctor said they talked to people from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine to create a rural education program in Crockett.  The idea was to give students a more hands-on experience.  The problem is that for nearly a decade, one Crockett surgeon has been housing the students. Now, they hope a new place to stay will give medical students a reason to go into rural medicine.

"We take them out to dinner, they go to our house, they go to church, they're in the community and they're part of rural life and they learn about what it takes to be a rural surgeon," said Dr. Ray Morrison.

After 10 years of housing medical students in his home, Morrison was ready for change.

"My other kids are going dad, who are all these people in our house," said Morrison.  "We canvassed the Houston County Hospital District Board and asked them what would it take to build a rural center to house the students."

Now the house behind the Crockett East Texas Medical Center is complete with a library, wireless Internet, and individual door locks.  It can house seven medical students at a time.

"It gives us a chance to really kind of shut everything out," said third-year medical student Katie Fuller.  "Whereas, if you're in someone else's house you're having dinner, you're involved in a family, and while those things can be really nice, it can also be a real drain on your time."

The house is an added bonus to a program that Morrison talked to TCOM about developing awhile back.

"We talked to them about actually having a core surgery rotation which is very unheard of," said Morrison.  "Most of the core surgery rotations take place at the base hospital near the medical school, so we're kind of a first in that."

Plus, when you can see the hospital from your kitchen window, it creates a better experience.

"Students typically in training situations are standing three and four back behind residents and interns and here they're right across the table from us," explained Morrison.

"In a few years when we are third-year residents we'll be just that much further above the curve," said third-year medical student Ashley Thomas.

Morrison said the Houston County Hospital District already had the land, but the house itself only cost around $210,000. They're hoping the idea will be copied around the state.

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