Two Baker University students have been accepted into a prestigious University of Kansas School of Medicine program.
Juniors Richard Wolf and Gracie Childs, who are both from Clearwater, Kansas, have been accepted into KU School of Medicine’s Scholars in Rural Health program. The program identifies undergrads from rural Kansas who are interested in building successful careers as primary care physicians serving underserved rural areas throughout Kansas.
“The Scholars in Rural Health program is a very competitive program with academic requirements,” said Dr. Erin Morris, professor of biology and chair of the Department of Biology and Chemistry. “This is the first time we have had two students selected for the program in the same year.”
A Good Physician
Wolf and Childs, who have been dating since high school and came to Baker together, met the program’s requirement of being from rural locations in Kansas, and plan to return to the area to practice medicine.
“I recommended each of them because they have shown that they can tackle a rigorous academic schedule, which is something that will be even more challenging in medical school,” Morris said. “A good physician understands the importance of making individual connections with patients and working as part of a health care team. Both Richard and Gracie are building these skills by making connections across the Baker campus and in the Baldwin community.”
Wolf was familiar with Baker because his two older sisters attended the university and played volleyball. “I had been on campus a few times while I was in high school and really enjoyed the small town feel of Baldwin City and the closer connections that could be made at a smaller university such as Baker.”
On campus, he’s involved in Baker Serves, is the Blood Program Leader for the American Red Cross, and is part of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. In addition to his involvement on campus, Wolf is working as a CNA at Baldwin Healthcare and Rehab Center, a nursing home just a few minutes from campus.
Childs is involved in Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and the Pre-Medicine and Health Care Club. She’s also a University Admissions Assistant, peer mentor, teaching assistant, and chapel worship leader. “I chose Baker because of the small community that reminded me of home,” she said.
Times of Need
The Scholars in Rural Health program lets participants discover the rewards and challenges of rural practice as a precursor to entry into medical school. Settings for the program vary to cover the variety of health care services in rural areas, including hospitals and office practices.
Wolf and Childs will learn at the side of an assigned mentor in the region, for a total of 200 shadowing hours accumulated during four semesters and one summer. They also will complete three patient-care reports and attend an initial orientation in Salina and a meeting at the end of each spring semester in Wichita. Once they complete the program requirements and graduate from Baker, they’ll be assured admission to the KU School of Medicine.
“It is important for me to pursue work in a rural area because I have lived my whole life in rural areas, and it’s the lifestyle that I love and hope to continue to live for the rest of my life,” Wolf said. “Rural areas have a sense of peace and connectedness that seem to be missing in other areas, and I hope to be fortunate enough to someday practice medicine in a rural community.”
Childs said working in rural medicine is a personal goal of hers because accessibility to health care in rural areas is much more difficult than in metropolitan areas.
“In 2019, my town turned EMS services over to the county, making the wait time for an ambulance longer,” she said. “However, there are Kansas towns that are in an even worse situation when emergencies arise. It is important to have doctors practicing in these rural areas to help those in times of need.”
Wolf said he’s not sure yet what specialty he wants to focus on after medical school but hopes to gain more experience and understanding of the different specialties during the Scholars in Rural Health program and in medical school.
“I am attracted to the type of care that allows me to create one-on-one connections with patients and develop long-term relationships,” he said. “I have grown to greatly appreciate that during my time working as a CNA, and these tend to lead my interest into specialties such as family medicine or other primary care positions.”
Childs hopes to specialize in pediatrics and subspecialize in developmental-behavioral pediatrics.
“I work at Rainbow Experience Preschool here in Baldwin City, and I have a huge passion for helping kids succeed,” she said.
Written by Jenalea Myers, ’08