Perriann Nunn patiently answered every question twice at her first appointment at her new doctor’s office.
“What brings you here today?”
”It’s my first visit. I moved from Wisconsin,” said Perriann, who now lives Collinsville because she wanted to be closer to her daughter.
The questions kept coming.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
“What medicines are you on?”
“Any concerns with those medicines?”
“Last tetanus shot?”
The first round of questions came from Zack Urick, 24, a medical school student who has spent a month working in the family practice of David LeBeau, at the West Belleville Health Center at 7210 W. Main. The second round came from the doctor after Zack had briefed him in the office separate from the patient.
Zack is a third-year medical school student at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield. His wife, Jennifer, a teacher, lives there while he was back in his hometown of Belleville for the Family Medicine Preceptorship Program.
Medicine was just a natural professional choice, says the 2010 Belleville East graduate, who lived with his parents, Steve and Tracy, while he was in town.
“I just always enjoyed science and people, and wanted to merge the two,” Zack said recently while waiting for patients.
He’s already had a month-long rotation in pediatrics, and will be spending a month each in the emergency room, internal medicine, neurology, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry. His last day at the Health Center was Aug 26; after that he went back to Springfield for a stint in neurology.
Zach isn’t sure yet which specialty he would like to pursue, although family practice and emergency medicine do have their appeal.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” said David, 58. “I’ve been doing it for 18 years in Belleville.”
He said there is continuity in his practice; that it’s fun to see the same patients as they grow. David’s own family, with eight children, has grown at the same time. Only two are left at home; a third has graduated from college and she plans to fly in the U.S. Marines.
“There are definitely jobs (available), in fact a lot of places are begging for (family practice) doctors,” David said. He speculated that the specialty professions were attractive for their higher pay.
Zack is coming to the medical profession on a different path than David took. Zack got his bachelor’s degree from Southeast Missouri State University in biomedical science; David was an art major at Eastern Illinois University.
Zack, a second-lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, is paying for medical school with a four-year commitment. He will be a captain when he finishes medical school. After art school, David flew helicopters for the U.S. Navy before applying to medical school.
While Zack questioned Perriann and gave a routine physical exam, David waited in his office for Zack’s verbal report. He enjoys working with medical students.
“I feel they help keep me current; and make me explain myself to somebody,” he said. David likes to have a student about once a year; several doctors in the practice do so.
“They’ve very professional, bright people,” David said of the medical students.
Back in the exam room, Zack explained the side effects of a medication that Perriann had taken. In a few minutes, David would be asking Perriann questions very similar to those Zack had asked, and come to the same conclusion regarding her health.
David said the school has a list of illnesses it expects Zack to see and treat during his month stint.
“But since I’ve seen almost every patient that comes through here, I’ve seen them all,” Zack said.