New student group offering hands-on help for pre-health majors

PLAINVIEW – Next to the valuable skills and knowledge they receive while in classes, one of the most important aspects of the undergraduate degree work for students pursuing medical careers is hands-on experiences that give another dimension to their resumes.

That step will soon be much easier for pre-health students at Wayland Baptist University with the formation of the Pioneer Health Service Corps, the newest student organization on campus.

Officially approved at Thursday’s Council of Student Organizations meeting, PHSC is patterned after a similar organization at Texas Tech University. Plainview native Luke Ingraham, a junior molecular biology major, founded the group after doing much research into starting such an organization and visiting with pre-health advisor Dr. Adam Reinhart, associate professor of biological and physical sciences.

“I originally talked to Dr. Reinhart about his interest in such a group and he thought it was a good idea. I mentioned it to a few other students, too, and they felt there was a need,” Ingraham said.

From there, Ingraham ended up at the Area Health Education Center in Lubbock, a nonprofit geared toward promoting health careers to area students at all grade levels. AHEC officials were thrilled to help Ingraham get the group up and running.

“They’d been trying to get something like this together and hadn’t been able to do it on their own,” Ingraham said. “They’d just been talking about needing a ‘student champion’ on campus, and I guess that’s me.”

AHEC put Ingraham in touch with Loni Flores, coordinator of the Tech organization, for help with the logistics of forming the group, and promised to be the link between Wayland students and those valuable experiences as the liaison between healthcare professionals and students seeking shadowing and internship roles.

“Their main task is to get students to come back to the rural areas to practice, so getting that exposure can help them fall in love with it and come back,” Ingraham said. “And it has worked.”

Ingraham said the experiences he anticipates will be invaluable to students like himself, who plan on pursuing medical school or a professional school toward other allied health fields like nursing or physical therapy. While students could seek out those experiences themselves – and Ingraham has, doing some shadowing with Dr. Tony Loggins in Plainview and serving as a junior volunteer at Covenant Hospital Plainview while in high school – those less familiar with the town are less likely to have the same luck.

Working through AHEC, Ingraham adds, lends a more professional air to the partnership and some additional expertise, pairing students needing exposure with physicians and other healthcare professionals that can use student help.

Now that the group is an official Wayland organization, Ingraham’s plan is to recruit members and get students into those clinical experiences as soon as possible, especially for the seniors who are close to graduation. That should not prove challenging, since a recent survey of science students revealed at least 65 intend to pursue health careers. Ingraham has already recruited five students to serve as division leaders in the five main areas of study: medical, dental, physical/occupational therapy, nursing and pharmacy.

Ingraham is excited that the group could be founded during the university’s centennial, since it was founded by a physician. He plans a dedication for the group soon, in honor of Dr. Wayland and the medical heritage tied to the university.

Reinhart, who will serve as the group’s sponsor, is excited that the group is now a reality and that a student took the initiative to get it going.

“This is more of an organized way to pursue volunteering in the medical community,” he said.

For more information on the Pioneer Health Service Corps, contact Ingraham via email