News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 7, 2011

Medical student gets on-the-job experience

Opportunity at Paris hospital made possible by Lugar Center for Rural Health


Special to the Tribune-Star

PARIS, IL — Danielle Cundiff knows exactly what she wants to do after medical school: become a family medicine doctor in a rural community.

“I’m from a rural community and there is a shortage of physicians in rural areas,” said Cundiff, a first-year medical student from Dana. “People in rural areas don’t go to the doctor like they should. I hope to educate patients about preventative care, like diabetes and high blood pressure.”

Cundiff recently spent two weeks interacting with patients and learning the practice of medicine from established physicians at Paris (Ill.) Community Hospital/Family Medical Center. The opportunity was made possible through the Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health in Terre Haute, whose mission is to advance rural health through education, innovation and collaboration.

While at PCH/FMC, Cundiff observed patients under the supervision of doctors Leland Phipps and Rahat Sheikh. The physicians provided a valuable learning experience and offered her “little pearls of wisdom,” Cundiff said.

“I’m so glad I participated in this program,” she said.

“It was a great way to see how physicians go through their day-to-day interaction with patients. I always knew that I wanted to go into family medicine, but this solidified it,” she added

Sheikh added: “It’s a good thing. Students come in and get to know the community. We’re hoping that they will come back and work with us again in a physician capacity.”

Cundiff earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and Spanish from the University of Southern Indiana/Evansville, and a master’s of science degree in biology from Purdue University. She recently finished her first year of medical school at the University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“I like family medicine because of the relationship the physician has with family,” Cundiff added. “By knowing the family, the physician can practice better medicine.”

After medical school, Cundiff hopes to open a medical practice in a small community in western Indiana or eastern Illinois.

“Rural family medicine definitely fits me,” she said. “I’m very excited to see how my second year of medical school goes after this experience [at PCH/FMC].”

Lugar Center info

• The Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health in Terre Haute has a mission to advance rural health through education, innovation, and collaboration.