CSU pre-med students spend “alternative” spring break in the Valley

Advisors and Students from CSU out of Fort Collins spent time exploring Alamosa when they weren’t at the hospital. Courtesy photo

SAN LUIS VALLEY— Sometimes good things happen with a phone call, a “stab in the dark,” taking a risk, or putting yourself out there.
CSU pre-med student Trista, recently took the lead to organize an “alternative” spring break for herself and 10 other pre-med students who attend Colorado State University. The 11 students and two professors found themselves in Alamosa and the surrounding community for a full week of job shadowing, volunteering, and giving back to others.
Through the assistance of Kylee Sowards and Donna Wehe at SLV Health, the students arrived and were able to settle into their vacation headquarters at the First United Methodist Church in Alamosa.
From March 18-22, the pre-medical, pre-PA, pre-PT, and other students, all of whom are juniors and seniors, got a taste for delivering healthcare in a rural setting. All of the students have an interest in returning to a rural area once completing their graduate education.
Joel Schwartzkopf, PA-C, supervisor from the CSU Health Network, commented, “We are extremely grateful for the warm welcome we received from SLV Health and the greater Alamosa community. By the end of our week, it seemed like everybody in town knew about our group! Many people reached out to us to help make our week a meaningful learning experience for the students. We look forward to building relationships in the community and returning next year on spring break to grow this partnership with San Luis Valley Health and the people of Alamosa.”
When not at SLVH, they were busy in the community. They spent a day at La Puente, time with other local non-profits and the SLVH Foundation, spent a day in Colorado Springs learning about forensic nursing, and found themselves on a beautiful spring day at the Sand Dunes National Park where they learned about wilderness medicine.
“Next year, now that we have some established relationships, we hope to increase the volunteering opportunities for the students,” added Schwartzkopf, “With a goal of spending more time in geriatric care in the local nursing homes (including the veteran’s home in Monte Vista) and exposing the students to even more remote access points to medical care, such as critical access hospitals and mobile clinics.”  You never know where one phone call will


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