NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Sometimes you don't know you like a situation until you try it out.
That's the thought of a health career training program offered by AHEC, the Area Health Education Center for the East Pineywoods Region.
East Texas visited with some of the students and doctors today to find out if the study is building connections.
Amy Bowmann is on her third day of working with pediatrician Dr. Modupe Sokunbi.
During the next four weeks, the UTMB physician assistant student will learn the ways of East Texas. AHEC is hoping she and other students like every minute of it.
"It's a way for them to learn what it's like to live and work in a medically under-served population," said Dr. Mark Scott, AHEC's East Pineywoods director.
AHEC officials said they're working with 33 doctors who are helping students learn on the job.
"The hope is they learn and they will want to come back and work in that area." Scott said.
the reality is most of them now work in metropolitan areas.
"They both have jobs in Houston and Dallas, and she has a job in Beaumont," Sokundi said.
However, the hope is more students will eventually come back or start to work in rural East Texas.
"When you think of it beforehand, you're kinda like, 'Uh, I don't know,' but when you really get an experience of hands on, you do realize how much more personalized you can be with your patients," Bowmann said.
It worked for former AHEC student Hannah Adkison of Garrison. The physician assistant is now mentoring future graduates at Dr. Mark Cline's Nacogdoches office. She's letting them in on the reasons to stick around.
"It's not just the job here," Adkison said. "It's knowing the people, seeing them out and about and having that connection with them."
That is something this West Houston student thinks she may like.
"I worked in Bryan, Texas for two years after I graduated undergrad, so I love the small town feel," said Haley Shields, an AHEC participant.
"So we got your strep results back and it's positive," Shields told a patient. "The good news is we know what it is, and we're able to treat it."
Thanks to participating AHEC doctors, these young students may be on their way to connecting with future East Texas patients.
The AHEC training program is 20 years old, yet many in the community do not know about the service.
On Tuesday, AHEC is having a banquet to honor the local doctors who volunteer their time to help future health professionals. The students will receive recognition as well.