SAU and UAMS South making mutually-beneficial collaborations

October 24, 2013

Dr. Espino working with SAU Athletic Department

UAMS South resident Dr. Erwin Rommel Espino treats an SAU student athlete with junior athletic training student Jordan Ammons, center, of Magnolia, and assistant athletic trainer Hannah Sutton. Espino is spending the month with the SAU Athletic Training Department for his sports medicine rotation requirement for his residency program.

Two Southern Arkansas University departments have forged mutually-beneficial collaborations with the UAMS South Residential Training Track Family Medicine Program in Magnolia.

The SAU Athletic Training Department is serving as the sports medicine rotation for the UAMS South residents and, across campus, the UAMS South resident program is working with pre-health majors by offering shadowing opportunities and speaking engagements.

According to Ken Cole, head athletic trainer at SAU, the first-, second- and third-year residents from UAMS South will be spending time with the athletic training staff during clinical times in the athletic training room, as well as at practices and games.

“Residents will be learning from our staff about sports medicine injuries and issues. They will also be able to teach our athletic training students about general medical illnesses and problems,” said Cole. “This is a great opportunity for SAU, our Athletic Training Program and our Athletic Training Department, as well as for the UAMS South RTT Family Medical Program.”

Dr. Erwin Rommel Espino, a second-year resident with UAMS South, said that there are nine residents in the program and each will spend a month with the SAU Athletic Training Department. He said he has appreciated the experience he has gained working with the SAU athletic training staff and students on maneuvers for sports injuries. His work at SAU has also helped him to be able to diagnose issues with joints, fractures and sprains.

“We are very appreciative to the people of Magnolia for being so friendly and welcoming,” said Espino, whose transition to Magnolia was evident by his blue Mulerider shirt he sported on the sideline of an SAU home football game.

Matthew White shadowing

Matthew White, junior pre-med student at SAU, right, spends an afternoon shadowing Dr. Gregory Backofen at the new UAMS South Magnolia Family Medical Clinic as a part of a new collaboration between UAMS South and SAU’s pre-health programs.

At the new UAMS South clinic in Magnolia, Matthew White is the first of many pre-health students to take advantage of shadowing the doctors. White, a junior from Rogers, Ark., plans to start applying for medical school soon and said the shadowing has been eye-opening.

“It’s been a great experience. I have gotten to learn about diagnosis, spend time talking to patients and doctors, and have seen what doctors do during a typical day,” said White, who was spending the afternoon after his classes with Dr. Gregory Backofen.

The clinic is going to work with one student at a time, each for a two-week period, according to Rebecka Wendling, community outreach coordinator at UAMS South. The end of October will conclude White’s shadowing experience, after which the next SAU pre-health shadowing candidate will be scheduled.

Wendling is also working with the SAU Pre-Health Club in scheduling UAMS South residents to speak to students interested in pursuing a career in health services. Just as White found his shadowing to be inspiring, Wendling and the SAU pre-health advisors hope hearing from working residents will motivate and inform other undergraduates.

“We are grateful to UAMS South for their openness and willingness to work closely to mentor our pre-health students. It has been a pleasure working with Rebecka Wendling, Dr. Martha Garrett-Shaver and Gloria Boone on this initiative,” said Dr. Viktoriya Street, associate professor of biology and a pre-health advisor at SAU. “Our pre-health programs at SAU have a tradition of getting students accepted into competitive programs of study for a number of health fields, and we know that this collaboration with UAMS South will continue to strengthen our pre-health program and students.”

UAMS South Magnolia Family Medical Center began operations at 1617 North Washington on July 1, 2013. The clinic provides highly-trained doctors and nurses and offers primary care medical services to patients of all ages. Their staff serves

a seven-county region that includes Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita and Union counties. The Center is affiliated with Magnolia Regional Medical Center and with the UAMS Medical Center and clinics. The clinic was previously located in El Dorado, Ark.

After SAU graduation in May, the numbers of pre-health students earning spots among competitive schools were again impressive: seven going into medical school, one into veterinarian school, one into physician assistant school, two into nuclear medicine, one into studying prosthetics, two into pharmacy school, one into dental hygiene, and two into graduate programs. To find out more about the offerings of the College of Science and Technology at SAU, visit

The Athletic Training Program curriculum is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training. Students learn competencies and skills in athletic training through a structured curriculum, clinical education and supervised clinical experiences. Upon completion of the program, students graduate with a degree in athletic training and will be able to sit for the Board of Certification Exam. To find out more about the SAU Athletic Training Program, visit

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