Parkside student in program aimed at attracting doctors to under-served communities

BY JOHN KREROWICZ
jkrerowicz@kenoshanews.com
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A summer internship is turning out to be a major step in Peter Capelli’s goal to set up a family practice in Kenosha.

Capelli, 20, a senior this fall at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and four other pre-med students there have been in Madison since early June working in an eight-week program aimed at attracting doctors to under-served communities in the state.

“This is a huge learning experience in different areas for me,” he said. “It’s working in a professional research situation, looking up literature, collecting and analyzing data — things you don’t necessarily get to do during your undergraduate years.”

City/country specialist

The two-year program, called Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health, was formed by the UW-School of Medicine and Public Health. Parkside joined in the fall.

Bryan Lewis, Parkside’s assistant to the dean for health-related professions, said in a university press release that RUSCH organizers pursued campuses with medical students from rural and urban locations to join the program. Parkside was one school that fit the bill, he said.

Lewis said students in the program do not earn an “inside track” to admittance to the School of Medicine but they do get good experiences and make connections. Capelli added there were no contracts or incentives or commitments for him in order to take part. He was ready to join anyway, he said, because it fit his career goals.

Capelli’s father is Dr. A.J. Capelli, and his uncle is Dr. Paul Capelli.

“I guess getting into medicine is a little bit of wanting to carry on the family tradition,” he said.

Practitioner experience

Next summer, the participants are to take part in an eight- to 10-week internship in southeastern Wisconsin. This summer, they’re assisting with School of Medicine research.

Capelli is working on a project identifying patterns to determine whether parts of Madison have unusual numbers of childhood obesity.

No preliminary results are ready, he said. But when they are, Capelli said, he’d help write the report, which is to be published.

Doctors wanted

Kenosha is not considered under-served, Capelli said. But a recently released study said Kenosha ranked seventh worst of 72 Wisconsin counties in overall health, and medical personnel are needed here to help combat those numbers, he added.

“Besides, Kenosha is the community I’ve grown up in,” he said. “I love being there.”

Is there a shortage here?

Kenosha County has a mild case of health service shortage.

Federal officials identified a part of the county as a “medically under-served area” although no location specifics were offered.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources Service Administration designates such an area as a place possibly with a shortage of personal health services or with groups of people facing economic, cultural or linguistic barriers to health care.

The administration’s website also noted six professionals in Kenosha County serving patients living where health care is difficult to find.

The administration published figures showing Kenosha County had 1.7 physicians per 3,500 people as of 2008. A site with a result of one or fewer physicians per 3,500 people is designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area.

For dentists, the county has 2.2 per 5,000 residents. A site with a result of one or fewer dentists per 5,000 people also is would be known as a Health Professional Shortage Area.

The shortage designations determine whether locations qualify for various government programs.

The administration gives grants to areas to help resolve shortages. Kenosha County has received $962,046 in grants so far this fiscal year, down from last year’s $1.01 million.

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