The best way to get to know and understand Kansas and its health care needs is to go out into it and experience it. So, that’s what I did this summer.
Late in the spring I went to Anthony, Dodge City, Kinsley, and Greensburg to visit hospitals and talk with physicians.
This past summer, I toured Hays, Plainville, Stockton, Phillipsburg, Norton, Belleville, Concordia, and Minneapolis, meeting with hospital and clinic administrators, physicians and other health care practitioners, board members, and legislators. I was able to meet with Fort Hays State University President Edward Hammonds and had a terrific conversation. Along the way, I saw beautiful country, and I met a lot of nice people.
I toured HaysMed and met some of the happiest physicians I have ever seen in my life. A beautiful facility, the physicians were thankful to have state-of-the-art equipment and topnotch care teams.
We talked about medical education and how it’s evolved. Today’s students learn material based on systems and participate in problem-based learning. I’m planning to move to a patient-centered model in Wichita in the next couple of years utilizing small groups and physician leaders.
Dean Wilson visited Hays Medical Center, to learn about what’s happening in their community and what they need from us the medical school. Myron Applequist, Director of Medical Staff Development, provided a tour of the facility and introduced Dean Wilson to physicians.
Starting in the first week of medical school, students will receive a case they’ll study throughout the week along with lectures on biomedical sciences. On Friday, they’ll meet the patient or a similar patient and his or her physician to learn more and ask questions. They’ll learn what it felt like to receive the diagnosis, what the costs were, and about their personal challenges. In addition to learning specific material while problem solving, they’ll go deeper into caring for their patients. And as most of us know, when you have to teach something, you learn it better. In the small groups, they all have to look up answers and teach the others in their groups with the guidance of a faculty member.
It’s a model we developed in North Dakota when I was dean and one that was adopted by Mayo Medical School and is spreading across the country where there are smaller class sizes like in Wichita. The students enjoy learning a lot more, they do extremely well on their tests, and when they begin their hands-on, clinical training in the third year, they hit the ground running.
A 1981 graduate of KU School of Medicine, the patient-centered approach really resonated with CEO Dr. John Jeter, who was very supportive of the approach and the skills students would gain with the new education model.
Dean Wilson started his busy day by meeting with Representative Eber Phelps and Senator Allen Schmidt in Hays.
I had breakfast with Kansas Rep. Eber Phelps and Senator Allen Schmidt at Pheasant Run in Hays to give them an update on our expansion in Wichita. They both talked about the need for more doctors in their areas and were very supportive of the expansion in Wichita. When I talked about our plans to develop a Regional Simulation Center in Wichita, Senator Schmidt offered military contacts he has in Washington, DC, who might be interested in a partnership with McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita and passed that on to Dr. Paul Uhlig who is leading that effort. Who knows? It might just work.
At our next stop, we visited Rooks County Medical Center, a beautiful, new facility. Representative Dan Collins joined Jen Brull, MD; Daniel Sanchez, MD; Mike Oller, MD; and Beth Loney, MD.
A highlight of my travels, Dr. Oller and Dr. Loney had just graduated from their residencies in Family Medicine in Wichita and were recently married. They’ll begin practicing in Plainville before they move into their new $1 million clinic that’s being built up the road in Stockton.
Dr. Loney shared that on the drive to our meeting her husband had turned to her and said, “We’re doing it. We’re living the dream.”
It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Before leaving Plainville to head to Phillipsburg, Dean Wilson gathered with his hosts (left to right) Dr. Beth Loney, KU School of Medicine-Wichita resident alum; Dr. Mike Oller, KU School of Medicine-Wichita resident alum; Dr. Jennifer Brull, volunteer faculty; Dr. Daniel Sanchez, volunteer faculty; and Representative Dan Collins.
Dr. Loney first worked with Dr. Brull the summer between her first and second years of medical school and knew right away she wanted a rural practice. She helped deliver babies, stitched up cuts, and more in the early years of medical school under Dr. Brull’s and Dr. Sanchez’s supervision. She liked getting to “do it all,” the lifestyle, and the people.
In a kind of neat repeat of history, it was working with Dr. Sanchez during medical school that brought Dr. Brull to Plainville.
A Hays native, Dr. Oller didn’t know what he wanted to do. When he learned he could do lots of different things in a rural practice and fell in love with Dr. Beth Loney in medical school, things fell into place. Soon they’ll be able to walk to work, something to which they both look forward.
I’m happy for all of them and their communities and proud that KU School of Medicine played a part in helping them get there.
As I talked with the four physicians and Representative Collins, I saw their support for our expansion and the hands-on education we offer in Wichita. And they confirmed what I already knew, that we’re on the right track in Wichita. It still was great to hear it out in the field from physicians who have been practicing awhile as well as from some who had just finished their residency training.
Next stop was Phillipsburg’s Phillips County Medical Center. PA Jennifer Hammons has been working at the center for five years now alongside various physicians. Most recently, she’s been partnered with Ben Stephenson, MD, who is serving as a locum tenens (temporary) physician while they recruit for a couple of new physicians.
At Phillips County Medical Clinic in Phillipsburg Dean Wilson met with medical staff to discuss the medical needs of the county.
The administration and board expressed frustration at recruiting to a rural area. As I heard throughout my travels, they talked about the importance of truly rural rotations to expose medical students early on to just how rich a practice can be in a rural setting.
Dr. Stephenson, a fairly recent graduate of KU School of Medicine, was practically salivating when I told him about our plans to move our curriculum to a patient-centered model – another powerful endorsement.
I’m sure Phillipsburg will find a match soon, and I’ll gladly recommend the facility and people.
Then we were off to Norton. I was surprised by how large it was and impressed with the new clinic they’ve built attached to the hospital. Clinic administrator Amy Griffey gave us a tour of the offices, and showed us how they designed just what they wanted in order to maintain privacy and efficiency while delivering great care. I would have loved to have practiced in that environment.
Senator Ralph Ostmeyer and Rich Miller, with Norton Medical Clinic, joined Dean Wilson and others for dinner following their meeting.
Busy finishing up their day, the physicians, nurses, and admin-istrators joined us, Rep. Ralph Ostmeyer, and several board members for a meeting and dinner. Again, they seemed very happy – a consistent thread in the rural practices.
Dr. Martin Griffey had been a med tech before going to medical school at KU, knowing he would return to Norton to practice. He took the initiative to go the extra mile to learn procedures the community needed, such as doing colonoscopies and reading echocardiograms.
A passionate family medicine doctor, Dr. Griffey also feels strongly that it’s important to get the medical students out to truly rural practices on their required rural rotations so they can experience firsthand what it’s like.
Then we were off to Belleville that evening, driving through some of the most beautiful farmland I’ve seen in Kansas. Of course, it helped that they’ve had a lot of rain up north this year. Still, it was absolutely beautifully.
Dean Wilson visited Republic County Hospital in Belleville where he met with physicians and hospital administration.
On my last day out this trip, we started at the Republic County Hospital in Belleville up by the Nebraska border. Dr. Cayle Goertzen met Dr. Nolan Beavers in medical school and chose to join him in Belleville.
Both are passionate about practicing in a rural setting and expressed a lot of appreciation for the many opportunities they have to do procedures outside of what’s typically done by family medicine doctors in a more urban setting.
Our time ended when the two physicians had to leave to do a lap hysterectomy. Proof of what they’d been saying.
And once again, I left happy to recommend the facility and people.
On the way to meet with physicians, hospital administrators, and board members in Minneapolis at the Ottawa County Medical Center, we stopped in Concordia to meet with Representative Elaine Bowers. A most gracious and thoughtful businesswoman, the state’s very lucky to have her in office. She listened carefully about our expansion in Wichita and about how medical education is evoloving. She asked smart questions and expressed her support.
On his way from Belleville to Minneapolis, Dean Wilson stopped in Concordia to meet with Representative Elaine Bowers.
In Minneapolis, Administrator Eric Easey hosted us with a large group of physicians, health care providers, administrators, and board members.
Dean Wilson met with Dr. Kelly Yoxall; Dr. Bruce Labes; and Dr. Trent VanEatonat the Ottawa County Health Center in Minneapolis.
Three of their physicians – Dr. Bruce Labes, Dr. Kelly Yoxall, and Dr. Trent VanEaton – attended and endorsed both the expansion in Wichita as well as the idea of patient-centered learning.
When asked what drew him to Minneapolis to practice, Dr. VanEaton pointed to his uncle – Dr. Yoxall – and mentioned the quail hunting.
That works, too.
I’ll go again in October
Everywhere I went, I heard support for patient-centered learning and the expansion in Wichita. I met with smart, engaged legislators who care about their constituents and want good health care accessible in their communities. And they all support what we’re doing in Wichita.
Along the way, I had great food at Gella’s in Hays, enjoyed shopping at the very unique CS Posts in Hays, had a nice dinner from Destination Kitchen in Norton, and visited the Feathered Nest in Belleville.
The consistent message from physicians was if medical students would just come out to truly rural settings and see what it’s about, we’d have more choosing to do primary care in rural settings.
And I met some of the nicest, happiest people in rural Kansas.
I kept saying, “We need to do more of this. This is good.” So, Medicine Lodge, Garden City, Tribune, and more, I’ll see you in October.