NORMAN - Nine students experienced what it’s like to be a doctor when they shadowed Norman Regional physicians as part of the Belknap Memorial Pre-Medical Proctorship.
The late Dr. Hal Belknap, with support from Norman Regional Hospital, created the pre-medical proctorship program in 1989. Belknap wanted to offer students who were seeking a profession in medicine the opportunity to experience various disciplines of the practice first hand.
This year, the students observed 28 physicians and medical professionals from emergency room physicians to family practitioners and pediatricians to surgeons. After Belknap’s passing in 2008, Dr. Brian Yeaman and JoAnn Belknap partnered with Norman Regional Health Foundation to continue the program.
Yeaman, who has a family practice in Norman, volunteered this year to spend time with students. He said the proctorship is an extremely rare opportunity to see a variety of specialties, surgeries, procedures and healthcare professions in a short time.
“This is a big leg up for those students who participate. The (Norman Regional Health) Foundation and the Health System’s collaboration in enabling this program is what makes it so unique,” Yeaman said. “The incredible physicians in Norman that dedicate their time and have continued to do so over the 20 years of this proctorship program are whom the students rave about. We couldn’t do this without such wonderful physicians who want to give back to the community.”
University of Oklahoma junior Ganga Moorthy was one of the students selected this year.
“The Belknap Proctorship was an incredibly eye-opening and educational experience,” Moorthy said. “Through the program I was immersed in what it is like to pursue a career in medicine far beyond simply seeing patients. From the program I received a wider and more complete view of the medical profession.”
How a student can benefit from the early experiences with medicine is seen in Yeaman’s own career. He said he was able to gain exposure to the world of medicine through Belknap and the Norman Clinic.
“I didn’t come from a family with a background in healthcare and I doubt I would have had this opportunity if I had not had the incredible support of the Norman community and hospital,” Yeaman said. “I had always hoped I would have the chance to contribute to the lives of young men and women making their way through the complex issues that come with a decision to enter the medical field. I don’t think I can ever repay Norman for the opportunities our community has afforded me and my family. I couldn’t be happier doing anything else than giving back in such a way as continuing the Proctorship.”