UNRSOM Students step up to help the community

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) The campus up at UNR is pretty desolate.
The same goes for the medical school where classes have been cancelled.
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But that doesn't mean students at the medical school aren't putting what they've learned to work.

At a triage center, fourth year medical students are answering calls from those who have big concerns about the coronavirus and their potential exposure.

While Washoe County has the means for such a center, Elko County residents can call into a center of their own where a medical student locally will pick up the line.

“We have also had a fair share of folks who are calling who are sick,” says Clint Kolseth, a 4th year medical student at UNRSOM. “Some of them are experiencing symptoms of COVID 19. Others are having a head cold or allergy symptoms and trying to figure out what is exactly going on with them. So the purpose of the phone conversation is get them some information and triage the situation,” he says.

Kolseth and other 4th year medical students need to fulfill a rural rotation before graduating.

Because rural programs were shut down here in Nevada and some communities along the eastern sierra in California, this call center is designed to meet that requirement.

“A lot of these rural Nevadans, they are going to have to travel hours sometimes to get seen, or checked or tested,” says Dr. T. Brian Callister, UNRSOM Rural Medicine Education Director. “They are really panicky. So we had this idea why don't we try to mix part of this rural rotation with this great need,” says Dr. Callister.

Dr. Callister says getting credit is not the sole motivating factor for students at the medical school to lend a helping hand.

First, second, third, and fourth year students are stepping forward to shop for residents shut in, and volunteering in other ways because he says it's the right thing to do.

Kolseth says as medical school students most will eventually become doctors, which means they step in to help no matter the risk, no matter how big or small the task.

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