A hometown experience: Future doctor shadows her mentor

Leslie D. Rose @DvilleNewsie
Allison Falcon

     Donaldsonville native, Allison Falcon, is a first year medical student at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. While she hasn’t yet figured out what her medical specialty will be, she knows that she would like to eventually become a doctor who gives back to communities like Donaldsonville.

     As part of a preceptorship program, Falcon – a 2009 Ascension Catholic High School graduate – spent the first week of 2016 at the Prevost Memorial Hospital under the tutelage of longtime family doctor, Dr. Michel Hirsch.

     A preceptorship program seeks to provide experiential, enrichment and academic placements which facilitate the development of a special set of skills, attitudes and understandings for persons seeking entry into a medical program. Participants are placed in hospitals, health centers, HMO's, or health professional offices in relationship to their specified career goal and given 'hands on experience'.

     “They let us interact with patients just like they would do – it’s really hands on,” Falcon said. “I think that’s what medical students need right now, is to actually get out there and see what it is that they’re in for, for the rest of their lives.”

     Students may only participate in the preceptorship program once. However, there are similar programs that Falcon said she intends to go through, in efforts to choose the field that best suits her needs.

     While working with Dr. Hirsch, Falcon said she got a full family doctor experience.

     “First I got a white coat, so I kind of actually looked like a doctor, and a stethoscope,” Falcon said. “I followed him around the first day and didn't really say much. By the second day he was letting me examine ears and listen to lungs and all kinds of stuff.”

     Falcon said her decision to choose Dr. Hirsch as her preceptorship mentor was based on her familiarity with him as a doctor, as she has been one of his patients since she was a child.

     “We have similar personalities,” Falcon said. “I grew up knowing him and I just wanted to get a real family medicine experience – he’s treated the same patients for years and years and years.

     Dr. Hirsch was very, very inspiring. I would follow him for more weeks, more than a week.  I just wish I had more time with him – I just learned so much in four days.”

     But what Falcon really took away from the program is an evaluation of Louisiana’s need for more family practices in its small town and cities.

     “Now that I’ve done this preceptorship, I really appreciate where I came from – the small town of Donaldsonville, I really want to give back more.

     I know that Louisiana [doesn’t] have that many family medicine and primary care doctors – it’s making me think about coming home and going to other small towns and giving back.”