The Cadre of Peer Consultants
Each of these individuals has personal experience in the design, development, and direction of rural residency programs and as such is a “near-peer” to others engaged in the same work. Although all of them are generalists in rural UME and GME with a broad scope of knowledge, each brings areas of special interest and expertise. And for most consultations we operate in pairs, matching our expertise with community needs.
Ted Epperly, MD
Dr. Epperly is the President and CEO of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, a Federally Qualified Teaching Health Center comprised of nine FQHC clinics, four ACGME FM residency programs, and four fellowships. He is a past member of the ACGME Board of Directors that has responsibility of all residency and fellowship training for over 125,000 residents and fellows of all specialties in the US. He currently serves as the Governor appointed Co-Chairman of the Board for the Healthcare Transformation Council of Idaho that is in charge of helping transform healthcare for the State of Idaho. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Central District Health Department.
Area of expertise: FQHC, Teaching Health Center funding
Rob Epstein, MD
Port Angeles, Washington
For the last 20 years, Dr. Rob Epstein has practiced and taught rural family medicine in Port Angeles, Washington (which is located in the upper left corner of the map). Prior to settling in Port Angeles, he worked on the Navajo Reservation in the Four Corners region and in Northern Pakistan. He received his medical training at the University of Washington School of Medicine where he still teaches and is currently the Program Director of the Swedish Port Angeles Rural Training Track.
Area of Expertise: Working with communities to develop partners to facilitate rural UME and GME.
Robert Gobbo, MD
Hood River, Oregon
Dr. Gobbo has been the residency director of the Providence Hood River Rural Training Program since 2013. He notes his career has taken a full circle as he returned to his original rural community where he began his family medicine career post-residency in 1988 at then “La Clinica del Carino”. He has had over 25 years in graduate medical education in both Oregon and California residencies. He is a well-known speaker for the AAFP in areas of maternity care, cross-cultural medicine and currently is on the board of the Rural Training Collaborative.
Area of expertise: Residency design in FQHC’s and Critical Access Hospitals, longitudinal curricula, faculty development, resident assistance for struggling learners, rural GME accreditation, and care of underserved populations.
Randall Longenecker, MD
Dr. Longenecker practiced comprehensive family medicine, including maternity care, for 30 years, 15 of those as Program Director of a rural training track in family medicine. He is a regional lead and an advisor for the Rural Residency Planning and Development Technical Assistance Center. He is the founder and Executive Director of The RTT Collaborative, providing technical assistance to developing and existing programs, and pursuing research in rural health professions education and training.
Area of expertise: Community engagement, organic residency program design, longitudinal and emergent curricula, rural GME accreditation, finance, and governance
David Schmitz, MD
Grand Forks, ND
David Schmitz, MD is Professor and Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He has served as program director for RTTs in Idaho and currently is chair for two RTTs. His experience in performing consultations for RTT development spans over 10 years and 12 states. Additionally, David has research expertise in training and retaining physicians in rural areas. He continues to practice clinically in Grand Forks.
Areas of expertise: Community engaged medical education. Coalition building and alignment of resources. Resource assessment and strategic planning. Faculty development. Curriculum and accreditation.
David B. Smith, MD
Following 6 years of rural practice in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Dr. Smith has enjoyed a 28-year career as faculty in family medicine residency programs around the country. My academic niche has been preparing graduates for rural practice. I created three 1+2 rural training track programs in Wisconsin, an outpatient rural track in South Carolina, and another 1+2 rural training track in Colorado. Currently, I am the program director for the North Colorado Family Medicine 1+2 rural training tracks utilizing Sterling and Wray for the rural years of training.
Area of expertise: Helping communities to decide if and where they should start an RTT, using a longitudinal curriculum in an RTT, optimally planning the schedule to maximize GME funding, and identifying multiple funding streams so as to be less reliant on government funding.
Kara Traxler, PMP
Kara is an Associate Director at the RTT Collaborative and the Director of Rural GME Development for a statewide initiative, the Wisconsin Collaborative for Rural GME. For 8 years, WCRGME has provided rural hospitals with technical assistance for expanding rural GME and communicated the benefits and options of rural training and practice to medical students. She also worked to establish the Northern & Central Wisconsin GME Consortium, a collaboration to grow GME in rural northern Wisconsin, now accredited as an ACGME institutional sponsor.
Expertise: Development of rural training sites as an integrated “1-2” RTT, continuity clinic, or rotation site; creating rural pathways in specialties other than Family Medicine; consortia as a model for support and expansion of rural GME; establishing an ACGME-accredited institutional sponsor; working with multiple health systems to support rural GME; creating faculty and program coordinator development initiatives
Area of expertise: Rural program design (both UME and GME), sponsoring institutions, integrating the continuum of medical education, in multiple specialties
Michael Woods, MD
Dr. Woods served as program director for the University of Oklahoma Rural Family Medicine Residency formerly in Ramona, OK for 25 years and practiced full range rural medicine for over 30 years. He retired from the University of Oklahoma in October of 2020 and currently cares for his patients in Bartlesville, OK. He is taking up the position of Chief Medical Officer for Ascension Saint John Jane Phillips hospital in January.
Area of expertise: Rural program design, development, and sustainability, governance