Crafting community partnerships and tailormade clinical experiences
Amy Han, PhD, is another extreme advocate for medical students in her role as director of clinical education for the Northwest-Gary campus. She strives to match each student’s unique interests with eager preceptors. When a student in the Urban Medicine and Health Care Disparities Scholarly Concentration program wanted to do a project in interventional radiology, it took some searching, but Han located a specialist in that field doing work with the medically underserved.
“We’re not just the city of Gary—over 750,000 people live in our region. Northwest Indiana has nine full-service hospitals and five federally qualified health centers, so our resources are vast,” Han said of the school’s numerous clinical partners. “Rather than trying to fit a student into what you want, it’s so much better to see what the student’s passion is.”
Being initially undecided about what specialty to pursue, Class of 2021 graduate Marlee Crews found her clerkship experiences invaluable.
“Being on a regional campus, you really do get a lot of one-on-one experience with preceptors in the clinical setting, and you get to be amongst the decision-making and are given more responsibility,” said Crews, who is headed to Northwestern University in the Chicagoland area for a residency in radiology.
Like Aljobeh, Crews elected to stay on the Northwest-Gary campus for all four years of her medical school training. Her initial fears about feeling disconnected from the greater IU School of Medicine community ended up being unfounded. Crews was able to plug in and participate in student interest groups and committees involving medical students from all campuses.
“There are many opportunities to feel very connected,” she said.
Evolution of the medical student experience
The experience of today’s medical students on the regional campus looks very different from the medical school experience of decades past.
“They get a lot more attention here than we ever did as medical students,” said Rebecca Galante, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at IU School of Medicine-Northwest-Gary who graduated from IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis in 1984. “One-on-one interaction with teachers was really unusual back then.”
She practices internal medicine in Munster, Indiana, while her husband, Gustavo Galante, MD—also an IU School of Medicine alumnus—has been in private practice as a plastic surgeon for 30 years and serves as a volunteer faculty member and preceptor.
“When I was a medical student, there was this hierarchy—fourth-year students, residents, chief residents, fellows and the attending physician—there’s a lot of steps between the student and the attending,” he said. “Here, it’s the student and me. They get to ask questions, and we get to know one another. They’re first-assist in the operating room, and they get first-hand contact with patients in the office.”
When Crews did her pathology elective, she said, “I was being observed but walking though the practice of making a diagnosis on my own. Basically, they treated me like a first-year resident, and I learned so much.”
Crews initially chose to study in Northwest Indiana because her husband was doing graduate school in Chicago. She didn’t fully appreciate all of the opportunities of the regional campus until later.
“Being at a regional campus, and especially in Gary, you get to see how medicine is practiced in a community setting. In terms of specialty selection, it provides a robust picture of what the practice of medicine can look like after medical school,” Crews said. “Proximity to Chicago is another selling point, and Northwest Indiana is really beautiful. If you like being near a metropolitan area but still want that small cohort with one-on-one experiences, this is a great option.”
About this series:
Indiana University School of Medicine is commemorating the 50th anniversary of its statewide system for medical education, established by the Indiana State Legislature in 1971. This series highlights the unique history of each regional campus and celebrates its distinctive learning environment and special programs.
Learn more about the rich history of medical training in Northwest Indiana and the current vision of IU School of Medicine-Northwest-Gary leaders.