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Arcola Med Student Focused on Rural Health Care in Taylorville


Third-year medical student Maria Van Gundy recently completed a month-long educational experience at Taylorville Memorial Hospital and Springfield Clinic-Taylorville.

Van Gundy, who’s in the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford’s Rural Medical Education Program, spent her month engaged in clinical work that involved pediatrics at Springfield Clinic and emergency medicine at the nonprofit hospital.

Van Gundy’s presence is a first for Taylorville Memorial Hospital, which has hosted undergrad students exploring opportunities in rural medical practice, but never an advanced medical student.

“We are committed to recruiting and retaining the next generation of rural health professionals,” said Kim Bourne, president and CEO of Taylorville Memorial Hospital. “We were thrilled Maria chose TMH to fulfill her elective rotations. Opening our hospital to students like Maria is a wonderful example of how we develop relationships with in-training doctors or nurses who may want to come back to our community to practice in the future.”

For Van Gundy, Taylorville Memorial Hospital felt like a natural fit.

“I’m from Arcola, and when you grow up in a rural setting, you learn to appreciate it,” she said. “I definitely plan to return to a rural area, specifically central Illinois, when I graduate.”

Of Rural Medical Education Program (RMED) graduates, 75 percent go into practice in rural communities upon completion of residency training, according to the National Center for Rural Health Professions website. The RMED program is the medical component of the National Center for Rural Health Professions, which promotes the health of rural communities through partnerships in education, service, research and policy.

Van Gundy’s father was a family medical doctor who saw patients in his office that was attached to Van Gundy’s childhood home in Arcola.

“Seeing the impact he made on people made me want to go into this field,” she said.

Van Gundy said her experience at Taylorville Memorial was valuable and confirmed for her at least one aspect of medical practice in a rural setting – the slower pace of a community hospital allows for quality relationships to develop between a doctor and her patients.

“That may not be as much the case in urban health care settings where you’re seeing loads and loads of patients,” she said. “In a rural setting, you can really get to know your patients and their families and build those bonds.”