Compassion Health Care Inc.’s first MedServe Fellow is nearing completion of her time here at the Caswell Family Medical Center location in Yanceyville, NC. While her 2-year fellowship is at an end, Temi Faokunla’s experience in primary care is just beginning.
As a graduate of the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a major in biology and a minor in public health, Temi Faokunla thought about her next steps. She knew that she had a deep-seated desire to help people, and when the opportunity to be a MedServe Fellow through AmeriCorps came knocking, she answered.
“I had always been interested in medicine and had a desire to become a physician, but I knew I wanted to take at least 2 gap years before starting medical school. When I found out about Medserve, a 2-year AmeriCorps clinical fellowship program I knew I had found the exact next right thing for me, and I was so elated”, said Temi.
MedServe places recent graduates interested in medicine in clinics all around North Carolina that serve underserved populations. The MedServe mission is “To improve the health of the medically underserved communities of North Carolina while exposing tomorrow’s most promising future providers to primary care practice in a way that inspires them to be life-long champions of health equity.” The 2-year program in North Carolina places its fellows in a primary care setting, and in Temi’s case, Caswell Family Medical Center feels fortunate enough to have her placed in Yanceyville where she has learned much about rural health care and what it takes to help the community they serve.
“As a physician, I want to work primarily with the underserved and people of color and partner with them on their journey towards better health, so I knew this program was the perfect fit for me.”, Temi explained. “It offered me the opportunity to work in the type of setting and with the type of population I hope to one day work with in the future.”
According to MedServe.org, “MedServe Fellows undergo a rigorous two-week Training Institute in Chapel Hill to prepare for their roles.” The program in North Carolina also offers quarterly skill summits that help expose students to key medical concepts and help them prepare for the next stage of their careers. Applicants are recent college graduates and graduate students who are in a medical-related field and have an interest in attending medical school. The fellowship allows future health providers to start a medical education while experiencing great community-based primary care. Fellows can serve in primary care settings in the roles of:
- Health Coach
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Interpreter
- Community Health Worker
- Population Health Specialist
- Quality Improvement
- Medical Scribe
Temi is the first MedServe fellow at Compassion Health Care, Inc. and came to the medical center at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She had the opportunity to explore many different roles, including scribing (entering data into electronic medical records during a patient visit), taking vitals and screening patients, following up with patients, providing health coaching (performing motivational interviewing and behavioral change troubleshooting for common outpatient conditions), working on quality improvement (QI) projects, and helping with the vaccine administration process throughout the pandemic.
“I have learned a lot about rural healthcare, and I have loved watching the amazing impact Compassion Health Care has in the community. My time here has made me even more passionate about becoming a physician and working in rural settings with the underserved and people of color. I hope to help increase access to healthcare and help eliminate the many barriers and health disparities that affect people’s access to quality care.”
Temi worked primarily with Dr. Serena Zhou-Talbert, one of CHC’s primary care physicians at the Yanceyville location. Temi explains that “watching how Dr. Zhou-Talbert interacted with her patients and offered them treatment and support was inspiring. She also gave me the opportunity to work on different projects and take on new responsibilities that aligned with the things I’m passionate about as well as things that will help me as a future physician.”
“It has been a joy to work with Temi over the past two years and watch her grow and flourish in her role as our first MedServe Fellow. She has made such a positive impact on our community during her time with us, and we will all miss her dearly. As much as we’d like to hang on to her, I know she has great aspirations to fulfill as she continues her journey to become a primary care physician. This will not be the last time we hear from her!”, said Dr. Zhou-Talbert.
Before the start of her clinical fellowship, Temi remembered thinking that 2 years was such a long time, but the reality is, that her time at Compassion Health Care, Inc. has come to an end. When asked what her favorite part of the job was, she explained that she thoroughly enjoyed the interactions she had with patients, many of whom were very different from her, but still welcomed her into their health journey. While following up with each patient, she was able to hear their highs and lows and offer them support and help in whatever way she could.
“I’m so grateful to all the wonderful people at Caswell Family Medical Center. They welcomed me in and supported me and were some of my biggest cheer leaders. After my time as a clinical fellow ends, I will be attending the Medical College of Georgia and starting my journey towards becoming a physician. I’m so excited!”