• dhalbert0

ReConnect Gap-Year Fellowship Celebrates 5 years

By Lacey Ferguson, ReConnect Fellowship Program Director

I still remember the beginning of the ReConnect Gap-Year Fellowship. I had just begun my position as Education Coordinator with the Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon (AHECSW). One of the first tasks assigned to me was taking over the newest program of AHECSW - a gap year program that would place students applying to medical school into medical scribe positions in our community. It was in the very preliminary stages; I was handed four resumes for potential program candidates. My first task was to set up interviews for them. Those four candidates marked our first cohort of ReConnect Fellows and the beginning of our journey to build a robust program that exists today. Of those inaugural candidates, Michael Graham is a practicing Physician's Assistant in Roseburg, Oregon. The remaining three fellows are over halfway through their journey in medical school. Two of the four, Lucas Short and Audrey Taylor, are in their third year of medical school and are currently placed in Roseburg, Oregon, on their medical rotations. The fourth fellow, Jaide Farr, is in her second year of medical school and will be starting rotations next year in 2021.

We are now onboarding our fifth cohort of ReConnect Fellows. As I reflect on this journey, I realize how much time has passed, and so quickly. This has prompted me to look back at the data we have collected over these five years. It is clear to see that there is something unique and extraordinary within the scope of the ReConnect Gap-Year Fellowship:

  • Of the 17 Fellows who have been accepted to the program:

  • One fellow is currently practicing locally in Roseburg, Oregon as a Physician's Assistant at Evergreen Family Medicine

  • Three fellows are in their 3rd year of Medical School

  • Three fellows are in their 2nd year of Medical School

  • Four fellows are in their 1st year of Medical School

  • Five fellows are currently scribing at Aviva Health in Roseburg, Oregon, and are actively applying to medical school

  • 100% of ReConnect Fellows who have applied to medical school programs have been accepted and have entered medical school

Fellows who have been through our program have consistently held the program in high regard. Most would overwhelmingly recommend any aspiring practitioner facing a gap-year should consider applying to be a ReConnect Fellow. Mahtab Brar, a 2019 Fellow, just began his first year of medical school at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland. He says,

"I think our program is unique in that we get to be both a scribe and a medical assistant at an FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center). That means we see patients of all sorts and get a good feel for the depth and breadth of medical practice. The ReConnect Gap-Year Fellowship is special. It gives you resources to help you succeed in your medical school interviews and otherwise provides a ton of support during your gap year. For the unique clinical experience and resources offered, the ReConnect Fellowship can't be beaten."

Another 2019 Fellow, Andreea Gosman, is also in her first year of medical school at OHSU and highly recommends the program to others. Andreea says,

"If you are looking for a tight-knit program that treats you as more than a nameless pre-med on an assembly line, provides advocacy for what you need to thrive during the application process, and acts as a collaborative family offering breaks from the stress in the form of food and fun activities....then I highly recommend this Reconnect Gap-Year Fellowship."

It is incredibly rewarding to see feedback that the fellows receive the intentional care and support that we strive to provide to our gap-year students. One of our priority objectives is to give ReConnect Fellows a positive experience in rural healthcare. We want to ensure they feel supported and professionally sharpened as they apply and interview with medical schools.

Last week, I enjoyed organizing a cohort dinner with some of our current ReConnect Fellows at a local Roseburg pizzeria. A local physician and AHECSW board member, Dr. Chip Taylor, MD, and veteran ReConnect fellow Audrey Taylor, a third-year medical student at Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Lebanon, Oregon, also joined us. It's always a treat to interact with and "pick the brains" of those who can attend our dinners. As I took in the conversations of the evening, I realized I was observing a very special moment in the life of the ReConnect Gap-year Fellowship. What an excellent opportunity for aspiring medical professionals to seek the wisdom of those who went before them. The ReConnect Gap-Year Fellowship is built upon moments like these; genuinely unique and edifying gap-year experiences that equip the next generation of medical professionals for the journey ahead of them.

It's been an exciting and productive first five years for the ReConnect Gap-Year Fellowship. As the program director, I can't wait to see the coming years unfold for both our veteran and future ReConnect Fellows.

To explore more information and testimonials about the the ReConnect Gap-Year Fellowship, please visit our program website at:

Current Fellows gather with local physician Dr. Chip Taylor and ReConnect Veteran Audrey Taylor for a social dinner at Old Soul pizza in downtown Roseburg. From left, Veteran Fellow Aurdey Taylor, ReConnect Fellows Program Director Lacey Ferguson, Current fellow Kayla Epperly, Current Fellow Emily Do, and AHEC Board member Dr. Chip Taylor.

72 views0 comments