UW-Platteville RUSCH scholars chosen

May 2, 2013

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Left-right: Dr. Jeffrey Huebschman, Dr. Richard Dhyanchand, Brett Becker, Joshua Hess, Brett Carr, Jered Nystrom, Natalia Chapman, Tyler Grunow, Jessica Fritz and Alexandra Thompson.

PLATTEVILLE, Wis.­­­ — At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, students interested in the field of medicine can find the potential for networking and career advancement with the Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Medicine, or RUSCH program. In partnership with the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Parkside, RUSCH is designed to attract students who intend to practice medicine in any specialty in rural or urban health areas of Wisconsin. RUSCH is made possible by funding and support from the state of Wisconsin, UW School of Medicine and Public Health and UW System campus partners.

RUSCH at UW-Platteville accepted five new scholars who will attend the summer experience programs in Madison, Wis., this year. Those selected are all biology majors and include Elizabeth Pretto, from Madison, Wis.; Daniel Lunetta, from Kenosha, Wis.; Ross Johnson, from Appleton, Wis.; Maria Leighton from Oregon, Wis.; and Brittni Peach, from Janesville, Wis.

“The RUSCH program is designed to recognize students early in their secondary education who are interested in a career in medicine and want to apply that knowledge to a rural or urban community,” said Dr. Richard Dhyanchand, assistant professor of biology who is actively involved with the RUSCH program.

Students selected for the program attend two paid summer experiences in Wisconsin during consecutive years. Summer Experience I is an eight-week summer enrichment program in Madison that provides exposure to research, some MCAT test review, medical school application process, and exposure to the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine, or WARM, and Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health, or TRIUMPH, programs. Summer Experience II is now more community health focused with some exposure to a clinical setting and can involve placement anywhere in the state.

Tyler Grunow, a biology major with a biohealth/physiology emphasis, grew up in Dodgeville, Wis. He witnessed his dad at work as a practicing physician and knew that he wanted to do the same thing. He became a RUSCH scholar last year and will complete community health focused experience this year. “I like being able to solve problems in a way that helps other people, and what better way to do that then as a physician?” Grunow said. “In medical school, you learn the how’s and why’s of medicine, but programs like RUSCH can show you the people-related things like knowing how to communicate effectively with both your patients and other health care professionals.”

Grunow will work this summer in Madison with a public health institution in a Wisconsin county and assist with whatever project they are currently working on, be it better communication, evaluating current programs or any other agenda related to public health.

“RUSCH presented me with the opportunity to pursue a career in public health,” said Joshua Hess, a biology major and chemistry minor from Rewey, Wis. “It was invaluable because I got the opportunity to shadow a variety of health care professionals in order to get a better idea of what I want to specialize in after medical school.”

Hess gained his interest in medicine after a childhood surgery opened his eyes to the possibilities of the field. “I knew then that I wanted to do what I could to improve people’s lives,” he said. “RUSCH is a fantastic opportunity that every pre-med student should consider applying for. It can help you to determine whether or not you are following the right path of what you want to do with the rest of your life.”

Both Hess and Grunow have ambitions to attend medical school in the future as well as taking a year to gain some field experience. Grunow is considering possible volunteer work, and Hess wants to obtain certification either as a Certified Nursing Assistant or Emergency Medical Technician professional.

“As RUSCH scholars, students will be exposed to a variety of different backgrounds and experiences that they would not normally have encountered,” said Dhyanchand. “They will take day trips to a farm outside Madison and to the inner-city of Milwaukee to be exposed to diversity and understand that there is a significant disparity between the healthcare offered in much of our society and what exists in the rural and urban setting.”

Applications for the RUSCH program are usually accepted during the fall semester. Dhyanchand, Jeff Huebschman, biology department chair and Amanda Trewin, professor, then review applicants before they are sent to UW-Madison for official selection.

“Among the students we recommend, UW-Madison selects who they wish to interview for the program,” said Dhyanchand. “They have always been impressed with the caliber of students who have come from UW-Platteville.”

Former RUSCH scholars have accomplished a variety of different aims, including acceptance at the UW-Madison medical school, medical schools elsewhere in the country and other avenues of healthcare, including nursing.

“The goal is not to make everyone a doctor, but rather to have them understand what it means to be a physician and healthcare provider in our society,” said Dhyanchand.

Contact: Richard Dhyanchand, professor, biology department, (608) 342-6155, dhyanchandr@uwplatt.edu.

Written by: Angela O’Brien, UW-Platteville Office of University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, obrienan@uwplatt.edu

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