Laura Whittington medical trainee at PHSI

Hometown girl only a few more steps from being a doctor ... Laura Whittington is experiencing one of her medical rotations learning from the doctors and physicians assistants of Philip Health Services, Inc. After three years of residency work, she will complete three years of Air Force obligation. Then, maybe, she will go into pediatrics.

Philip Health Services, Inc. has had a history of hosting medical students during their hands-on rotations at various clinics before they graduate from their respective universities.

The most recent person shadowing and learning from the experienced doctors and physician assistants at PHSI is Laura Whittington, a 2003 Philip High School graduate and daughter of Monte and Maureen Palecek.

"I think that it is always nice when we can help with any future medical practitioner," said Dr. David Holman. "Laura seems well educated, has her goals set and is ready to continue in her education. She seems very enthusiastic to be in medicine. Though sometimes we don't know until only a few weeks before a medical student will be visiting, it's always enjoyable having students around."

Whittington began at PHSI December 13 and will finish this rotation January 7. Her first few weeks were under the tutelage of Dr. Coen Klopper, and when he was not present, under the direction of certified physcians assistant Terry Henrie. She is now learning from Holman. After Philip, her next rotation will be in Denver, Colo., then she will have two more rotations and an online class remaining.

"I've always liked medicine, working with and helping people," said Whittington, who originally was aiming at being a physical therapist. Even while her ultimate goal altered toward being an athletic trainer, she completed her major in biology, then decided to go on to medical school. "I had no idea about DO (Doctor of Osteopathology) programs, most people don't," said Whittington. A DO is a medical doctor who also specializes in bone manipulation, somewhat like what a chiropractor does. After she graduates from her four-year program in May, 2011, from the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine based out of Kirksville, Mo., she will begin three years of residency. Eventually, "I want to go into pediatrics," said Whittington.

Her husband, Jeremy, who has a degree in wildlife and fishery, "has been very supportive of this whole process. He knows it takes up most of my time," said Whittington. This process includes having been in the Air Force for the last few years. Through its Health Professional Scholarship Program it will pay for Whittington's last three years of schooling, then "I will owe them three years of my life," said Whittington.

"I really like working at the Philip clinic," said Whittington. "It's a more broad practice, definitely a more hands-on experience than other clinics I've been at. Medicine is a great field to go into. It's a lot of work, but worth it in the end."