Big thanks to everyone who entered the RTT Collaborative’s 2022 Photo Contest!! There were so many lovely submissions, and we had a difficult time picking through the talent to pick the few winners. That being said, we’re extremely proud of the five selections who won the contest this year. View them below, and keep an eye out for next year’s photo contest announcement this summer.


What does rural education look like?


first place

“Experiencing Remoteness” 

Aaron Cain, Salt Lake, Utah

“While on a rotation at the Utah Poison Control Center, I was able to take consults for patient’s all-over rural Utah. While the poison center was in Salt Lake City, it was a short drive to get out of the city to rural Utah. Often many of the patients we were consulting for needed to be transferred to be able to receive the level of care that they needed. Sometimes that even meant transferring them to another state because we did not have the capacity to care for them due to COVID-19 patients in our intensive care units. This brought a new perspective for me and being able to use the resources that you have in the emergency department because when you are in the community you often do not have the levels of care that major academic centers have. I was able to reflect on these experiences and be thankful for the transferring process when I was on a hike in the mountains of Utah for just how remote things can get in the western states. This is similar to rural medicine because you can only use the tools at your disposal and sometimes you need to get creative for your patients.”



second place

“Seeing Rural from a Different Perspective” 

Yunus Tekin, Roswell, NM

“Completing medical school rotations in a rural and underserved community has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I have had the opportunity to speak and get to know my community members in their best and most difficult moments. The people of Roswell are hardworking, friendly, and emphasize family and community above all else. As my education progresses, Roswell feels more like home by the day. Through patient encounters and volunteering events, I have begun to understand the struggles the community faces, and I hope to one day play a role in alleviating them. Patients traveling more than three hours to seek medical care from specialists is a challenge people in rural areas endure. To help address the health care shortages Roswell faces, my classmates and I have started a youth medical explorers program. We have been mentoring and providing hands on medical immersion to local high school students with the hopes of inspiring the next generation of health care workers in the region. I am hopeful that by directly meeting the people of Roswell and cultivating lasting relationships, I will be able to lighten some of the burdens people encounter regarding barriers to their care.

The generosity and kindness people have shown me here was showcased when I was invited onto a hot air balloon. Only in a rural setting do you get the once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a breathtaking view of the region.”



third place

“The Reality and the Joy of Rural Practice” 

Mykayla Vollmer, Winner, SD

“This photo represents my view every time I stepped out the door to report to the hospital. No matter how busy I was, I always took a moment to appreciate this scene. Even on the longest days, when you are filled with the heartache of losing a patient, when you have to tell a mother that she lost her child, or when you see someone’s life change in an instant, I could always rely on this simple beauty. Rural medicine is challenging, raw, and consuming—however, you can always find joy in your community. For me, this joy was right outside my doorstep.”



honorable mention

“Opportunity for Growth” 

Danielle Smith, Mendocino County, California

This photograph was captured in Montgomery Woods State Nature Reserve in Mendocino County, California. Here, among the redwoods, I participated in team-building exercises with six other brand new residents. I chose to pursue rural family medicine because I wanted to challenge myself to grow as much as possible during my residency. As I looked up, I thought how fitting it was, to start off my journey surrounded by these incredible trees that reach towards the sky.



honorable mention

“Broad Scope of Medical Student Training – Even in COVID” 

Carl Lang, Sioux Falls, SD

I attend the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, which has a unique rural training program in which students spend their third year of medical school learning from rural physicians. My classmate Riley Schaap and I were selected for this program and placed in Winner, South Dakota. We shared many fantastic experiences in the clinic, hospital, ER, OR, and labor and delivery. The photo above in the hospital was taken in the ER. We saw many patients in the ER during our time and learned hands-on skills like suturing, splinting, and CPR. The stakes were high during our time as COVID was rampant in the community, but we were honored to serve the community of Winner.

Despite staying very busy in the clinic and hospital, we managed to find hobbies we love in rural South Dakota. Fishing was our favorite pastime. We bought a boat together and embarked on fishing adventures on our days off. On the first day we took our boat on the water, we landed this amazing northern pike just before heading home. It took both of us to reel it in, but it was worth every second after we held it proudly in the boat together. Please enjoy two pictures that encapsulate our time on the plains and wards of rural South Dakota.


Thank you to everyone who submitted, and congratulations to this year’s winners!