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Medical student gets training at home-town office

Working side by side with a doctor in a small town can teach a medical student a lot.
“It’s interesting to see how the trust is built first hand between doctor and patient,” said Ben Coulter, a first year medical student at Wake Forest University.
“To treat an entire person as a patient, it’s important to know what’s going on in their lives.”
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.
“I used to run up and down hills and through creeks barefoot,” Coulter said. “It’s the same, but different. I’ll see the same faces, but it’s different because I’ve been away and learned new things.”
Bias has brought medical students into his office for seven years. He’s always excited when a local student comes to study.
“These folks come a long way from where they start,” said Bias. “Every once in a while I get really outstanding students, and Ben’s one of them.”
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.
“I wanted to come back where I’m from because there are certain health care challenges that are part of the culture,” 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.
“It’s kind of impersonal as far as patients are concerned,” said Coulter.
Coulter has spent much of his time watching Bias work with patients.
He has also taken patient’s histories and given physicals. Bias then confirms Coulter’s findings.
Both Bias and Coulter praise the clinic’s patients.
“The patients are just wonderful,” said Coulter. “They’re different from any other patients I’ve seen.”
Patients in Lincoln County are not only friendly, they also listen to their doctors and follow the instructions they’re given.
“That’s not the case in other places,” 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.
“He is really able to build a relationship,” said Coulter. “He has a really efficient system set up. It really minimizes down time.”
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.
“It means a lot to me to have a local person,” Bias said. “That’s the reason we’re doing it.”
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Staff Writer Sarah Grano can be reached at 704-735-3031 or sgrano@ltnews.comby Sarah Grano

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