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Since its inception in 2009, the UC Davis School of Medicine partnership with Tahoe Forest Health System (TFHS) for the university’s Rural-PRIME program continues to grow strong. To date 16 UCD Medical students have furthered their training at Tahoe Forest Hospital (TFH) with 11 students scheduled for the 2011 program. Because of its excellence in healthcare, Tahoe Forest  was selected as the first clerkship training site beyond Sacramento for this medical program; in January 2010, UC Davis officially named Tahoe Forest its first-ever Rural Center of Excellence.
Tahoe Forest Health System physicians train UC Davis medical students in The Rural-PRIME Program, which is designed to help increase health care access in California’s rural areas. Tahoe Forest Hospital offers medical students the opportunity to choose from a large spectrum of exceptional health care providers who have come from all over the nation, allowing for students to receive top-notch training in a rural clinical site rather than at an urban hospital. The result, according to research from rural medical programs around the nation, is more involvement with procedures and the real-world challenges for doctors who don't have a legion of specialists at their disposal — like medical students at university health centers do.
While working with TFHS medical professionals, Rural-PRIME students receive extensive hands-on training in the use of telemedicine and simulation technology. Internationally recognized for its telemedicine program, UC Davis School of Medicine has incorporated this expertise into the Rural-PRIME program. Telemedicine is the diagnosis and treatment of patients in remote areas using video conferencing and medical information transmitted from another urban location, like Sacramento or San Francisco. In this case, information is transmitted from medical instructors at UC Davis to TFHS physicians and their visiting medical students. The use of telemedicine has been shown to improve access to specialty care in rural areas statewide and provides a valuable tool for training future rural physicians.
“Tahoe Forest is very proud of its partnership with the UC Davis Health Medical School through the Rural PRIME program. We’ve seen the benefits of technology like telemedicine being utilized while UC Davis students further their interests in working in a rural community and grow increasingly passionate about establishing a career in a smaller region like Truckee or North Tahoe,” said Tom Hobday, volunteer executive advisor TFHS, and UC Davis School of Medicine retired Assistant Dean.
 Clerkship rotations at Tahoe Forest Hospital last between four to eight weeks, depending on the specialty.  All students remain in contact with their School of Medicine instructors via the same high-tech videoconferencing connections between Truckee and Sacramento, which are utilized for telemedicine consults and for the Cancer Care Network.
As noted by one UC Davis medical student, “The doctor I worked with provided detailed feedback every day, which was extremely helpful for my learning. I left the program knowing this doctor would be a long-lasting role model for me. She had a very professional demeanor and used appropriate doctor to patient terminology.”
The TFHS partnership with UC Davis Health System and its Rural-PRIME program also offers Truckee/North Lake Tahoe physicians an opportunity to serve as a volunteer clinical faculty at UC Davis School of Medicine. This type of volunteer work with a prestigious medical school like UC Davis enriches TFHS physicians’ experiences and allows them to be involved with cutting-edge medical studies and technologies. Currently, 18 local physicians and Nurse Practitioners are volunteer clinical faculty for the program.
"We couldn’t continue Rural-PRIME without the support of our community partners,” said Tom Nesbitt, MD, MPH, Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Technologies and Alliances at UCDHS, “And Tahoe Forest Hospital has been a constant supporter in our vision and our implementation of the program. They provide excellent clinical teaching experiences for our students, and a great model for what rural healthcare can be. ”
The following is a list of Tahoe Forest Health System Physicians and Nurse Practitioners who are participating as volunteer clinical faculty for the 2011 Rural-PRIME program: Paul Krause, MD, Primary Care; Rick Ganong, MD, Primary Care/Internist; Gina Barta, MD, Primary Care; Reini Jensen, MD, Primary Care; Jeanne Plumb, MD, Primary Care; Erin Winter, MD, Primary Care; Greg Tirdel, MD, Primary Care/Internist; Joy Koch, MD, Palliative Care; Diane Higgins, MD, Primary Care; Shawni Coll, DO, OB/Gyn; Peter Taylor, MD, OB/Gyn; Steve Thompson, MD, OB/Gyn; Debra Brown, MD, Pediatrics; Chris Arth, MD, Pediatrics; Else Uglum, MD, Pediatrics; Larry Heifetz, MD, Oncology; Colleen Wilford, RN, NP, Primary Care and Carol Lindsay, RN, NP, Primary Care.
“The Rural-PRIME program truly benefits everyone – students, instructors, TFHS physicians and their patients. The patients who have had the opportunity to interact with volunteer faculty and their medical students have reported enjoying their experiences with the students,” said Hobday.



Rural-PRIME is part of the University of California's "Programs in Medical Education" (or PRIME), which is designed to produce physician leaders who are trained in and committed to helping California's underserved communities. By 2015, experts predict the state will face a significant shortage of physicians, with rural communities struggling to provide health care with fewer doctors per resident than in urban areas.
As one of the six PRIME curricula within the UC medical school system, Rural-PRIME provides a range of educational experiences, including training in public health issues and the use of leading-edge medical technologies such as telemedicine to provide specialty medical care in remote locations. The program includes additional clerkship training sites in rural areas of the Central Valley, foothill region, bay region and  and northern reaches of the state.
Tahoe Forest Hospital District, 10121 Pine Avenue, PO Box 759, Truckee, CA 96160, (530) 587-6011

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