New Medical Students Report to Boot Camp

August 31, 2022
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The Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH) program held a boot camp for its incoming class of medical students earlier this month to ease the difficult transition to medical school and to orient them to the innovative community-centered PURCH program.
(Photo: First year PURCH medical students Ali Pupo Wiss and Paul Koffi)

When the new students arrived, they were greeted with a video created by second year students welcoming the Class of 2026 to PURCH and offering advice for surviving their first year in med school.

"Medical school is challenging and time consuming, but you were accepted into PURCH because you're up for the challenge. Everyone here wants you to succeed, so please don't hesitate to utilize resources including your mentors and peers."

Becoming a PURCH Physician

Boot camp provided the first year students with a grounding in the culture of PURCH.

PURCH is built by—and for—Baystate's communities. PURCH's unique Baystate Community Faculty, a diverse group of non-clinical community members, are involved in every aspect of medical education, including defining the type of physician the community wants:

A PURCH doctor is an excellent diagnostician who is empathetic, reflective,team-oriented, and a leader who can be led.

Getting to Know the Community

When asked why they chose PURCH, the students' responses reflected their desire for connection with community:
  • To learn how to serve the communities I care about
  • To learn to be a community-oriented physician
  • Because I'm interested in population and community health and reducing healthcare disparities

Areliz Barbosa BS, CCHWAreliz Barbosa, a community health worker who is a Baystate Community Faculty member, shared her experiences with the healthcare system as a woman and member of a minority and how it led her to get involved in teaching medical students.
(Photo: Areliz Barbosa CCHW, Member of Baystate Community Faculty and WOW Bus Community Committee)

Using the game Kahoot she presented some facts about Springfield and nearby communities. Then she led them in a case study exercise where they could put together what they learned about the community and apply the skills of cultural humility and deep listening that they practiced earlier in the day.

Putting PURCH Principles into Action

A panel of upper class students and faculty shared these examples of what it looks like to apply PURCH principles in practice and as a student.

The Way You Question Patients

Pediatrician Sam Borden MD described the typical process of anticipatory guidance during a well child visit as running through a home safety checklist asking, "Have you installed outlet covers? Do you have a gate at the top of your stairs?"  He said that parents can feel like they are failing and even become defensive. "A more PURCHy way to ask questions would be, 'Tell me how you've made your home safe for your child?' and 'Would you like me to what other parents have done?'"

Trust is the Most Important Tool to Help People

Eric Churchill MD, MPH, family medicine doctor, emphasized that a physician can have the correct diagnosis and recommend the best treatment but if there is no trust, the patient won't follow instructions. "Trust is not easy to attain," he said. "We need to be worthy of trust."

Self Reflection Makes You a Better Doctor

Mary Marchese MS4 stressed the importance of self reflection to becoming a better clinician—for example, to process an intense patient encounter and understand how that experience is changing you. She also urged students to look at their peers as leaders and to learn from each other.

 > More information about the PURCH Class of 2026

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