ELKINS - A new and unique internship in the health care field has led two Davis & Elkins College students to select their career paths. Colton Allen and Natalie Green were the first from the College to participate in the Green Coat Program provided by the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) in Lewisburg, W.Va., in conjunction with Davis Medical Center.
Following on Allen and Green’s completion of the program, two additional D&E students – Gerald “Trey” Furby of Belington, W.Va., and Samantha Davis of Salem, W.Va., – have been selected for a second session. The paid internship was coordinated by Dr. Shawn Stover, professor of biology at D&E, and Lisa Reed, director of D&E’s Office of Career Services and Student Employment.
“We were thrilled to be approached by WVSOM to become the second college in West Virginia to be chosen for this pilot program,” Reed says. “Being able to partner with Davis Medical Center where we already have a great working relationship is a win-win for everyone involved and provides our students with a great opportunity to determine if medicine is the right career for them.”
Allen and Green each spent more than 100 hours job shadowing physicians and other health care providers to gain an in depth perspective of the professions.
“Although they couldn’t provide direct patient care, they interacted with patients and put them at ease,” says Valerie Bright, coordinator of volunteer services at Davis Medical Center, who served as program organizer.
The experience included more than a dozen different health care settings: outpatient lab, clinical lab, Cancer Care Center, operating room, outpatient clinic, inpatient physical therapy, pulmonary department, emergency department, radiology, day surgery, pharmacy, case management, palliative care, telemedicine, Lifeskills class and nursing rounds in three units.
Green, an exercise science major from Elkins, says that after graduating from Davis & Elkins she hopes to attend medical school. Her interest in emergency medicine and trauma surgery resulted from observations in the operating room, an experience she first thought she wouldn’t like.
“Quite the opposite occurred,” Green explains. “I watched three separate operations and I was fascinated by the things I saw in the O.R. My experiences helped to solidify my choice in pursuing a health care career.”
The Green Coat Program also gave Allen grounding for his future plans in the medical field – one that’s more preventative than critical.
“I’m really leaning more toward dentistry,” Allen says explaining that he’s considered the profession for some time. “For me, that’s an appropriate specialty because I like to interact with people.”
A biology major with a minor in chemistry now in his junior year, Allen says he’s looking at six or seven medical schools – some on the East Coast and others closer to his hometown of Cheyenne, Wyo.
“I’ve always been really interested in science,” Allen says. “Medicine totally encompasses science and the body, and explains how humans and the environment work together.”
As part of the Green Coat Program, the students were required to commit volunteer hours in a non-clinical area of the hospital. Both choose to help at the Outpatient Information Desk.
“I really enjoyed it because I got to meet a lot of people in the community and make connections outside of the school,” Allen says. “Overall, it (the Green Coat Program) is a great opportunity for students because it gives them a feel for what it’s like to be a doctor, and you get to see a lot of things you would never get to see otherwise.”
The Green Coat Program is provided by WVSOM’s Rural Health Initiative with financial assistance as a grant from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. Open to college sophomores and juniors who are interested in medical school or a health care profession, the Program provides daily interaction in a hospital setting.
“I’m very impressed. They are two amazing young people,” Bright says. “They were very committed and dependable, and everyone really loved them.”
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.
Photo Caption: Davis Medical Center and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine hosted a ceremony to mark two Davis & Elkins College students’ successful completion of the Green Coat Program. From left are Patricia Crawford, WVSOM director of Rural Outreach; Vance Jackson, Davis Medical Center chief executive officer; Davis & Elkins College students and Green Coat Program participants Natalie Green and Colton Allen; Valerie Bright, DMC Green Coat Program coordinator; Karen Wines, WVSOM Rural Health Initiative Pipeline Program specialist; and Dr. Shawn Stover, professor of biology at D&E.