There’s a new face at the Madison Valley Medical Center this month, and his presence marks the first step in a relationship between the center and one of the premiere medical schools in the country.
Jim Antoon is a student at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans and he’s spending the month of September working with and observing the doctors and physician’s assistants at the medical center. As soon as he’s done, another student will begin a month rotation.
So far the experience has been very positive for both Antoon and the medical center.
“This is the first time I’ve been out in a clinic seeing what a physician does day-to-day,” said Antoon, who is planning on becoming a pediatrician. “It’s actually been a much better experience than I expected.”
The chance to have a medical student at the medical center has also helped the providers, said Loren Jacobson, CEO of the Madison Valley Medical Center.
“When you have to teach somebody it makes you think about things a little bit different and be very thoughtful in your presentation,” he said. “It gives our existing providers some professional growth so it’s a pretty good win, win.”
Physician and part-time Ennis area resident, Dr. Howard Sheridan, forged the relationship between Tulane University and the medical center.
Sheridan is an alumnus of Tulane and sits on the school of medicine’s board of governors. This past spring he gave a presentation to Tulane medical students about the Madison Valley Medical Center and the Ennis area.
His talk was enough to convince Antoon, a Florida native who had never been to Montana or lived in the mountains, to make the journey to Ennis.
The hope is for the relationship between the university and the medical center to solidify and grow, Sheridan said. First, build a rotation for students and then work on a full rotation of physicians who intern with the medical center.
The reason Sheridan worked to make the connection between Tulane and the medical center has a lot to do with his own experiences as a medical student.
“We had a rural rotation in one of the small communities in Louisiana,” he said. “I felt it was one of the most valuable experiences in my whole education.”
In a rural clinic, doctors are forced to be more independent and think on their feet more so than in a larger facility.
“It’s important to see how decisions are made without the many consultants that are available at the snap of a finger at a major medical center,” Sheridan said.
From Tulane’s standpoint, the relationship with the Madison Valley Medical Center continues their long-standing involvement in rural communities, he said.
For Antoon, his time in Ennis has been enjoyable.
“The facilities here are very nice for such a small area and they’re well equipped for the amount of patients they see,” he said. “There’s a good rapport between the physicians and the community it’s a very different experience from big city New Orleans.”
Antoon is also trying his hand at fly-fishing.
“I go fishing a lot in New Orleans, but it’s a completely different type of fishing,” Antoon said. “This seems more sporting than what we do down there.”
The next Tulane student, Alix Oreck, will begin her rotation at the medical center at the end of September, Jacobson said.