Distance learning helps med students stay close to rural areas

Published On: May 11 2014 11:09:30 PM CDT   Updated On: May 13 2014 11:36:05 AM CDT

As the medical community continues to look for ways to get doctors to rural areas in Kansas, the  KU School of Medicine says its distance learning program is helping.

The program allows future doctors the chance to study closer to those areas with the use of technology.

The pharmaceutical professor is teaching in Lawrence at the same time these Wichita students are tuning in.

Jordan Meyer says, "We press the microphone button and there's cameras in the room that focus on you and they see your face. So as you are asking the question they're looking at you."

Meyer is a first year medical student. His lectures are shared between students in Kansas City, Wichita, and Salina.

It allows for the need for only on professor for any given course.

Associate Dean for Medical Sciences Dennis Valenzeno says, "Part of it is finances, in part it's to try to keep students closer to the rural counties in Kansas that need physicians."

He says providing extra space for medical students in regional campuses is more cost effective but perhaps more importantly he says it's more likely those students will stay nearby.

"There's studies that show if you take a student away from a rural environment, put him in a great big city, you educate him there, and he does his residency there. No surprise he's going to get use to that and stay there because that's what they know.

That's exactly why Meyer says he's here, "I want to do family medicine on a broad spectrum in a rural community."

Valenzeno tells us "this campus does a really good job of providing doctors for Kansas, especially rural areas." He says they've only had a few technical issues with the program in the last three years.

He says although only a few campuses have similar programs long distance learning will soon become the trend in higher education.