Working side by side with a doctor in a small town can teach a medical student a lot.
â€œItâ€™s interesting to see how the trust is built first hand between doctor and patient,â€ said Ben Coulter, a first year medical student at Wake Forest University.
â€œTo treat an entire person as a patient, itâ€™s important to know whatâ€™s going on in their lives.â€
Coulter has spent his weeks off from school working with Dr. Donald Bias of the Lincolnton Medical Group.
He chose to study in Lincoln County because he grew up in Vale. While working in Lincoln, he stays with his family.
Coming home brings back a lot of memories.
â€œI used to run up and down hills and through creeks barefoot,â€ Coulter said. â€œItâ€™s the same, but different. Iâ€™ll see the same faces, but itâ€™s different because Iâ€™ve been away and learned new things.â€
Bias has brought medical students into his office for seven years. Heâ€™s always excited when a local student comes to study.
â€œThese folks come a long way from where they start,â€ said Bias. â€œEvery once in a while I get really outstanding students, and Benâ€™s one of them.â€
Bias hopes that the students he works with will choose to settle in Lincoln County.
Although graduation is a long way off for Coulter, he has considered coming back to his hometown. He has learned a lot about small town medical practices from working with Bias.
â€œI wanted to come back where Iâ€™m from because there are certain health care challenges that are part of the culture,â€ sad Coulter.
In an urban area, doctors have easier access to new medical technology, said Coulter.
Doctors at larger hospitals, however, have different relationships with their patients.
â€œItâ€™s kind of impersonal as far as patients are concerned,â€ said Coulter.
Coulter has spent much of his time watching Bias work with patients.
He has also taken patientâ€™s histories and given physicals. Bias then confirms Coulterâ€™s findings.
Both Bias and Coulter praise the clinicâ€™s patients.
â€œThe patients are just wonderful,â€ said Coulter. â€œTheyâ€™re different from any other patients Iâ€™ve seen.â€
Patients in Lincoln County are not only friendly, they also listen to their doctors and follow the instructions theyâ€™re given.
â€œThatâ€™s not the case in other places,â€ said Coulter.
During an average morning Coulter and Bias see around 15 patients. On busier mornings, the number can get up to 23.
During patient visits, Coulter perfects medical procedures, but he also makes sure to watch how Bias works with his patients on a personal level.
â€œHe is really able to build a relationship,â€ said Coulter. â€œHe has a really efficient system set up. It really minimizes down time.â€
Coulter will be back to work with Bias in the summer, and Bias hopes some day the medical student will settle down in Lincoln County.
â€œIt means a lot to me to have a local person,â€ Bias said. â€œThatâ€™s the reason weâ€™re doing it.â€
Staff Writer Sarah Grano can be reached at 704-735-3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Grano