Medical Monday: Medical students train in Panama City

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A program at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center is training third and fourth year medical students for the real world. The students are from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine and are doing their clinical rotation in Panama City.

Justin Hale is one of nineteen students from the college who are in the program.

"My mom was an ER nurse for eighteen years. She showed me from early on that healthcare is an easy way to give back to the community and to help others. She was my inspiration," said Hale.

Dr. Oussama Rifai is working closely with the students, "The college has entrusted me to oversee the education of these students that one day will be doctors and will look back at Panama City, hopefully, in a favorable way."

Dr. Rifai explained that the students rotate through the medical community. They learn from the doctors, but the doctors also benefit from the program.

"It will increase the learning for physicians because eventually they're going to have to teach these students. So, we brush up on education. We continue to read more, so the physicians' education improves a little bit, and that eventually reflects not only for the students, but also for the citizens of Bay County," said Dr. Rifai.

Hale said he's enjoying his training so far. He has an HPSP Scholarship from the Army and will be attending an Army residency after this program. He says he hopes to introduce others to osteopathic medicine, which includes looking at the whole patient, including the spirit, body and mind.