Teaching Happens Here: Med Students Enjoy ‘Hands-on’ Opportunities


Adam Wernette, above, and Zachary Jodoin, below, both are thankful for their medical school experiences
at Munson Healthcare.

A typical day at Munson Healthcare will find students from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine in short white coats entering clinic rooms or scrubbing into ORs with attending physicians.

And they will tell you that pursuing their doctorate in medicine in northern Michigan has its advantages.

“I was told when entering MSU-CHM that the Rural Community Health Program in northern Michigan would offer me tremendous hands-on experience and direct clinical interactions with both patients and providers. I had faith that this would push me to be a better student and, one day, a better doctor,” said Zachary Jodoin, a fourth-year student from Sault Ste. Marie who hopes to head to an orthopedic surgery residency after graduation. “I am also from northern Michigan and found myself wanting to return, learn, and serve within the community that raised me.”

Enjoying His Opportunities

For MSU-COM fourth-year student Adam Wernette of Frankenmuth, his training in northern Michigan has given him opportunities and experiences that may not have been available at other clinical settings downstate.

“Everybody has been very receptive to teaching and having discussions. They have all been wonderful with allowing me to truly participate in the patients care,” he said. “If they find something abnormal on their physical exam they will make sure I experience it. I think Munson is great for students, in all honesty, because you are often the only student on your given rotation allowing you to get more one-on-one time with your attending and get more involved in the patient care.”

Each year there are a group of 12 MSU-CHM students and five MSU-COM students who arrive in Traverse City to begin their two-year clinical studies on the northern Michigan campus. MSU-CHM students are under the direction of Campus Dean Daniel Webster, MD, while the MSU-COM students are assisted by Munson Healthcare graduate medical education coordinator Dana Maclellan.

Each college requires the students to go through a core set of clerkships which are typically one-month physician-supervised learning experiences in all settings, including hospitals, physician offices and outpatient clinics. Among the core clerkships are emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, and psychiatry. There are also regular lectures for students.

Thankful for Surgical Experiences

Students can also choose elective clerkships that help them focus on the area of medicine they want to pursue. Zachary is thankful for the experience he has gained through elective and extracurricular opportunities with Munson Healthcare surgeons.

“The orthopedic surgeons in Traverse City have a very special place in my heart. They have taken me under their wing, they have helped guide me as a student, and I have even completed research with one of them,” he said. “Because of their generosity and genuine interest in me as a student, I have opted to pursue a career in orthopedic surgery to, one day, repay this debt to a future student."

Adam, who prior to med school, worked as an EMT, and as a medical assistant in a physician office, intends to pursue an internal medicine residency with an eye on potentially specializing in hematology/oncology or cardiology.

“I had some really great experiences with oncologic patients in the hospital, which have truly impacted me in a special way. It’s definitely a very evolving field,” he said. “I really like cardiology, too. The physicians with the Traverse Heart and Vascular Group were amazing to work with. They were extremely welcoming, allowed me to participate in so much of the patient’s care and truly made me feel like a fellow provider.”

Strong Recommendations for Northern Michigan

Would they recommend the northern Michigan experience to other medical students?

“I would, and have done exactly that,” Zachary said. “Here in Traverse City, I am elbow-to-elbow with the surgeon. I am face-to-face with the primary care physician and the patient. I am getting experiences even interns don’t get. This is a big pull for me.”

Adam has enjoyed his time in northern Michigan and would consider coming back north to practice if he does not return to the family ties he has in the Frankenmuth area.

“I love it up here and my experiences working with all the physicians,” he said. “Everybody is very receptive to you taking initiative, getting involved and asking questions. And when you have time off, there is so much to do – you can’t beat that aspect of it – being able to wind down is really nice and necessary.”

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