FMU students get hands-on medical experience helping those in need

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Francis Marion University's service-learning course is improving the health of a local community, while giving healthcare students the experience they need.

FMU medical students like Heather Altman, spend Fridays at the Kingstree Felician Center.

"I didn't know there was such a rural community this close to me. I mean I live about an hour away from here, and I had no idea there were people who needed food and healthcare," Altman said.,

Every week these students provide check-ups and teach their patients about healthcare – all while getting school credit.

This effort to educate FMU medical students while helping the people of Kingstree is a partnership between the University and the Felician Center.

The Felician Center has been helping the less fortunate in Kingstree for 22 years.

"So we started with an after-school program and then other parts and faculties of the ministry began to grow the basic needs: food, clothing, medical assistance," said Sister SusanDziedzic of the Felician Center.

A recent heath study shows rural communities like Williamsburg County are in need of healthcare professionals.

"Francis Marion is committed to increase the population of healthcare providers by providing nurse practitioners and physician assistants," said Dr. Ruth Wittmann-Price of FMU.

The goal of this program is not only to provide for a community in need, but also to keep those healthcare students learning at FMU, in the state once they graduate.

After seeing the need, Heather Altman said she will probably do that.

"Originally I had plans to leave South Carolina, but I think after taking this class I'm considering that maybe there is some need for me here," said Altman.

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