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David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

November 17, 2017

MU Student Talks About Her Medical
School Journey with Local Seventh Graders

WEST PLAINS, Mo. - On Nov. 10, University of Missouri medical student Kaitlin Smith met with Lisa Chezem's seventh grade RTI class in West Plains to discuss her medical school journey.

Smith shared expectations on getting into medical school as well as courses and activities the students could participate in during high school if medicine is a career they are interested in pursuing.

"Smith encouraged students to be mindful of the classes they take in high school encouraging them to take as many chemistry and science classes possible," said Dr. Krista Tate, 4-H youth development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

When Smith was in high school, she took advanced placement classes in English and history, which enabled her to take more science classes once she got to the university.

As an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska, Smith worked hard on keeping her science grade point average high while also job shadowing as many doctors and health care workers as possible.

She also participated in many community service activities, which is very important when medical schools are considering possible students.

Smith ended the session by answering various questions from students covering the types of classes she took in college, housing options, student loans and the costs of medical school. Overall, the students were very engaged with Smith during her presentation.

"This was a great opportunity for the students," said Chezem. "I wanted them to see career possibilities after high school and the paths needed to make those dreams a reality."

Smith is in her third year of medical school at the University of Missouri and hopes to graduate in a year and a half. She is currently in on a rural track rotation that leads her to intern with rural doctors in southwest Missouri. Smith hopes to specialize in either family medicine or ophthalmology.

The rural track rotation is part the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) created by Congress in 1971 with the intention of inspiring, recruiting, and training a health care workforce to attend the underserved populations around the nation. AHEC assists in bringing the resources of academic medicine to address the local health needs of various communities. Currently about 120 medical schools, including the University of Missouri and 600 nursing and allied health schools work together with AHEC to improve health for underserved and underrepresented populations.

The MU AHEC Rural Track Pipeline Program incorporates four distinct but related curriculum and clinical components. Over the past 20 years, the Rural Track Pipeline Program has successfully produced rural physicians for the state of Missouri. In Missouri 55 percent of physicians practice medicine in a rural location.

As part of a career and or college readiness initiative, Missouri 4-H is looking to provide members and Missouri children with information and opportunities to learn career and college readiness skills.

For more information on career and college readiness, or 4-H programs in Howell County contact the University of Missouri Howell County Extension office at 417-256-2391 or online at

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: University of Missouri Extension

University of Missouri medical student Kaitlin Smith speaking to a seventh grade class in West Plains

Source: Dr. Krista Tate, (417) 256-2391

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