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Mary Bea Drummond | 918-594-8223

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Sean Kennedy | 918-594-8360

OSU Osteopathic Student Doctor Prepares for Rural Community Practice

TULSA, Okla.  –  Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences has a mission that’s simple:  to serve the health care needs of rural and underserved Oklahomans.  While OSU’s medical school mission is easy to understand, it’s a bit more complex to fulfill.  Rural communities can sometimes be discouraging to folks accustomed to the city life.  OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine students like Charity Holder are taking advantage of university-driven programs that show students first-hand the value of serving Oklahoma’s rural communities.

“Daddy told me that if you want to make something of yourself then you have to work for it,” says Holder, a second year medical student. And Holder has been working hard to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming an osteopathic physician.  She says her life-long goal to be a doctor is more than a career choice, it’s a lifestyle choice.   Holder was born and raised in rural Oklahoma.  She understands rural Oklahomans, and she understands their unique needs.

Holder is part of the new OSU-CHS Rural Health Option Program.  This program goes the extra steps in selecting students interested in health care, preparing them for the challenges and rewards of a rural practice, and returning them to their community to become a valued leader in health care, William Pettit, D.O., Associate Dean for Rural Health says.  “Southeast Oklahoma and Coalgate can be proud of their homegrown future doctor in Charity Holder,” Pettit says.

“I had a humble childhood,” Holder says.  “After I got off the bus in the evenings I would milk the cow, feed the chickens, and get the feed truck ready so that Daddy and I could see about the cows ‘til dark.  After I helped Mama with supper, I would read and study my lessons until midnight.”

Holder’s passion for health care developed as a result of her interactions with the local physician in her hometown of rural Coalgate.  She learned from him that being an effective health care provider requires more than just knowing how to diagnose an illness.  It requires someone who embraces the community they serve.

“In my hometown of Coalgate, the doctor is the most respected man in town,” Holder recalls.  “With how much he does for the community and with how many of my neighbors’ lives he has saved, I couldn’t help but to admire him.  As long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be just like him, the town hero – a small town doctor.”           

Holder graduated from East Central University in Ada before applying to OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.  In her time at OSU, Holder has made an impact.  After becoming the inaugural president of the Student Osteopathic Rural Medicine Club (StORM), she quickly began looking for ways to boost the general outlook on rural medicine.  Not only is she working hard to increase the interest of her classmates in rural medicine, she’s also working on ideas for bringing in students that have an interest in rural medicine from the onset, much like herself.  With the help of secretary/treasurer, Katie Luthey, the first year StORM Club has enrolled 115 members. 

“I want students from around Oklahoma, small towns or large, to know that becoming a doctor isn’t impossible,” she commented.  “You don’t have to be from a rich family or a big city.  You just have to take a look around at your friends, family and neighbors, and know that you could be the person that takes care of them if they get hurt or sick.”

Holder tells prospective medical students, “You can’t let anything or anybody stand in your way of what you want.  No goal is too high to reach if you want it bad enough.  Going to work every day knowing that you are filling a need, helping people – you couldn’t ask for a more rewarding career.”

In addition to her strict school schedule, Holder participated in the OSU Center for Rural Health and Oklahoma Area Health Education Center’s Summer Rural Externship for three weeks in Sallisaw with Jennifer Scoufos, D.O., an OSU-COM graduate.  Holder recently represented OSU-COM at the National Rural Health Association’s Clinical Conference in Park City, Utah. 

Holder says her dad told her, “If you want job security, then know that there’s always going to be sick people out there that need a doctor.”  In rural Oklahoma, that statement couldn’t be more true. 

Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa offers programs in osteopathic medicine, biomedical sciences and forensic sciences. Since its beginnings more than 30 years ago, OSU-CHS has grown to offer nine graduate degrees. On-campus programs, distance learning and OSU partnerships train osteopathic physicians, research scientists and health care professionals with an emphasis on serving rural and under-served Oklahoma. OSU operates six clinics, five in Tulsa and one in Enid. More information about OSU Center for Health Sciences is available at www.healthsciences.okstate.edu.