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Homegrown doctors

<b>Family practice physician Dr. Mike Jaczko points to sections of an MRI he and medical students, Tom Gray and Craig Gillis, are examining with radiologist Dr. Steven Edelman.</b><br>Marcus Larson / News-Register
Family practice physician Dr. Mike Jaczko points to sections of an MRI he and medical students, Tom Gray and Craig Gillis, are examining with radiologist Dr. Steven Edelman.
Marcus Larson / News-Register

Jun 15, 2011 | 6 Comments

By Molly Walker
Of the News-Register

Students from throughout the Yamhill Valley are preparing for the looming end of the school year, including four osteopathic medicine students just completing the first year of a program which put them in a rotation with doctors at McMinnville's Willamette Valley Medical Center.

The four are enrolled in the Northwest Track at Western University of Health Sciences, based in Pomona, Calif. The track's executive director, Dirk Foley, said it is limited to 30 students, all of whom either hold permanent residency or undergraduate degrees from one of the six Northwest states.

Western was founded as the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, COMP for short, in 1977. It assumed its present name in 1996.

It is planning to open an Oregon campus in Lebanon next fall under the COMP-Northwest name. The first new medical school to open in Oregon in more than 100 years, it plans to welcome 100 students in August, selected from 2,500 applicants, and add another 100 each of the three following years.

Dr. Mike Jaczko, a family practice osteopath employed by the hospital who sees patients at Family Tree Healthcare in Carlton, was the driving force behind the local hospital rotation. He felt the pending opening of a Western branch in Oregon demanded creation of such opportunities in the state.

Jaczko, who serves as team doctor at Yamhill-Carlton High School and Linfield College, said he's been teaching students for years. When he learned that Western was going to expand its reach into Oregon he thought, "Wow! We're going to need some extension sites."

Jaczko, who serves as a regional director for the school, met with CEO Rosemari Davis to discuss the idea. She readily agreed to host a quartet of third-year medical students.

"We historically have had a very strong advocacy for students in our hospital," said Davis, who recently announced her retirement. She said the hospital had hosted student nurses for decades, so why not student doctors?

"We wanted to grow our own," she said. "Every person in this hospital has been a student somewhere."

Davis said there were challenges, but they were met head-on. "More than 20 of our staff had to become adjunct faculty, and they did," she said.

The hospital also had to meet the level of curriculum necessary for medical students in their third year. And an orientation program had to be developed.

Davis said Jaczko was very intuitive when he suggested the hospital offer help with living arrangements, as medical students, like most students, tend to be broke. She said that's given Willamette Valley an advantage over other facilities.

Jaczko said positions go unfilled at some hospitals, "but McMinnville's a site they have to have a lottery for."

He said the hospital has been subsidizing rent in Carlton residences, and that makes all the difference. "For a medical student who pays $50,000 a year, that's really important," he said.

Jaczko raved about the results.

"The hospital's nothing short of fabulous," he said. "The staff is excited and invigorated. It's great to see physicians get together and want to make this a wonderful experience."

Student Tom Gray was sitting in a classroom on Western's Pomona campus when he learned about a new rotation opening in McMinnville.

His parents raised him in Forest Grove and his own family now lives in Newberg, so it was a natural for him. He could hardly believe his good fortune.

He has an unusual resume.

He studied to become an engineer, specializing in robotics, then took a belated U-turn into medicine. He's now 35, making him the oldest member of the student team.

Gray explains the switch this way: He was an engineer who problem-solved on robots. Now he's training to become a problem-solver on people, and finds, "It's really more interesting."

As a third-year student, Gray rotated through various specialties, including pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, family practice, surgery and internal medicine, learning from many doctors along the way. While he spent the largest amount of time at Willamette Valley, he also put in hours at Salem Hospital and Albany General.

He served his final eight weeks in internal medicine at Willamette Valley, and it fit what he envisioned as a medical student. He put in a solid 12 hours a day with patients.

"Rounds on patients were fun," Gray said. "The patients were great. That's where I felt I was really a part of the hospital."

He said that working with nursing students was also a plus.

"From a student's perspective, it's nice to have other students," he said. "It puts people in a teaching mood."

Gray's next stop will be a hospital where he can focus on a specialty, probably obstetrics and gynecology. By July 1, 2012, he expects to begin a four-year residency program.

"Five years from now, I'll be a doctor looking at joining a group or opening a practice," he said. "So if this is job recruitment, it's a long term process."

But he does want to return to this area to practice. And that resonates with Davis.

"It's the right thing to do for the students, community and the hospital," she said. The next stage, she said, is to begin offering a residency program.

"We're taking growing your own to the physician level," she said.

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11:54 am - Fri, June 17 2011
gottatellya said:
I wouldn't be treated at WVMC if my life depended on it.
04:33 pm - Fri, June 17 2011
Michael Tubbs Sr said:
Why not, gottatellya?
12:16 pm - Wed, June 22 2011
ItIsWhatItIs said:
it has improved but for a while there there were so many complaints - and when i had to be seen in the er i figured out why - looooong wait, rude staff, minimal information to the patient about what's going on and what the plan fof treatment was - i got a shot of morphine without being told - i thought they were flushing the iv until i felt the instant high - a neighbor was left with her knee bleeding until the doc went in to do stitches - she had to get up and get gauze and apply pressure because she was feeling dizzy and the knee kept bleeding after 10-15 minutes, a co-worker had his baby burned with a hot diaper, BUT that was a few years ago, i think they heard about it and it does sound like things are better from what i hear from patients - well, and i can say that the osteosurgery unit is truly fantastic - patient staff, check-in often, curteous to guests, helpful, etc.
02:04 pm - Wed, June 22 2011
gottatellya said:
Well, if it's improved, it's only since January. A relative had a brain aneurysm that took a whole hour to be diagnosed before they were life flighted. 20 minutes of that first crucial hour was spent in agony, vomiting in the ER waiting room while the oh, so important insurance info was collected. It's a miracle they survived. Another relative went in by ambulance with a sliced wrist (accidental, broken window) and lay on a gurney for 5 hours with wound wide open. I could go on and on with more stories that touched me personally, but I won't. Instead, I will just go elsewhere for any medical treatment, emergency or otherwise.
03:41 pm - Wed, June 22 2011
ItIsWhatItIs said:
yeah, lots of horror stories from the ER that's for sure...wonder if they just don't have enough staff or staff who gives a darn....if the problems are still going on, i hope they hear about them so they can work on correcting them......but really i had a relative who had hip replacement surgery and he couldn't be happier, another neighbor had knee replacement surgery, same thing - praised the staff at WVMC but it's different in the er - no rapport with the patients, trying to get them in and out quickly, etc.
05:49 am - Thu, June 23 2011
Michael Tubbs Sr said:
I've not anything to add to the conversation as far as bad experiences go, other than, it's never been (from my perspective) an unnecessarily unhappy occasion during any of my visits to the Willamette Valley Medical Center.

Quite the opposite actually, though, I myself have never been a patient there, I've a wife and friends that have. From the E.R. to surgery, post-op, intensive care, birth unit to billing, all seemed professionally and courteously handled. Actually, as far as the billing department goes, I'd found our treatment at their hands to be just as courteous and friendly, if not even more so.

No gripes here.
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