Straughn grad getting OJT with doc
For the last five weeks, Justin Freeney has learned exactly what it takes to run a medical practice in rural Alabama.
And, with the help of Dr. Mike Stanfield in Opp, it’s been a learning experience that Freeney said he would never forget.
Freeney is a 2007 Straughn High School graduate and a 2012 graduate of Auburn University, where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. He is a second year med student at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. On Thursday, he will end a six-week summer program through the Alabama Medical Consortium (AMEC).
For the last 12 years, Stanfield has served as a site director for the program described as “a pipeline that includes all components of physician medical education and provides opportunities for interested and qualified students.” AMEC is now in the process of evolving into the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) in Dothan.
Stanfield’s practice, Opp Family Medicine, is located behind Mizell Memorial Hospital. It’s also been a training ground for many doctors, Stanfield said, and he’s hosted students from both USA and from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“I like to teach,” Stanfield said. “And the way the program works is that, in Justin’s case, he’s able to follow me and listen to how to treat patients. He’s at in the portion of his training where it’s not so much hands on, as it is to familiarize him.”
Stanfield said it’s unusual to host a student this early in his education.
“I mostly get third and fourth-year students,” he said. “They can go in the room, treat the patient, and then I can go back behind them and talk with the patient.”
Freeney said he looks forward to the future challenge of treating patients.
“This program is more than a typical job shadowing program,” Freeney said. “It’s much more extensive, and it allows you to get the whole picture of what it takes to run a medical practice.”
Freeney said he could remember wanting to be a doctor as early as the eighth grade.
“I broke my hand playing football, and it really got me interested in orthopedics,” he said. “At first, when I entered med school, that’s what I thought I wanted to do, but then I found out how many specialties are available, and I can’t make up my mind.
“Family medicine really interests me,” he said. “It covers so many areas, and I like the diagnostic aspect of it.”
Which is what made Stanfield’s practice a perfect fit for him, Freeney said.
“I’ve learned so much, which is exactly what this program is designed to do,” he said. “I’ve heard the terminology, and I can speak the talk, but now I can understand the things (Stanfield) is talking about. It’s been wonderful.”