My rotation in Santa Fe, NM was everything I expected and more. While in Santa Fe, I worked in a small hospital, Christus St. Vincent’s Hospital; and two different clinics, St. Vincent’s Family Medicine Clinic and La Familia Medical Center, which is a Federally Qualified Heath Center (FQHC). The patient demographics for these three locations included a large percentage of uninsured and underinsured patients, a high volume of Spanish-speaking only patients, and a high percentage of underserved patients. These were demographics that I desired to work with when I chose this rotation, so I was pleased. One of my career goals is to work as a family physician in an FQHC, so training in such locations is an important part of my education. I have had the privilege of working in health centers all over the United States, in rural and urban settings, and all of them have been different from one another. La Familia Medical Center was no exception.

Broad spectrum of care
Working in rural settings has been a very positive experience for me. Smaller clinics and hospitals allow for a wider spectrum of patient presentations and a better learning experience. I have gotten to experience a fuller spectrum of medicine while working in rural settings than in any other setting. In my experience, when there are fewer doctors available, the doctors practice a wider scope of medicine. That is a huge benefit as a medical student because I get to learn so much more.

It was a pleasure to work at a small hospital like Christus St. Vincent’s because I was able to experience the full spectrum of family medicine. I spent quite a bit of time on the labor and delivery service with the doctors on call. As a student planning to become a family physician, I enjoyed getting the experience of working with a team of family physicians who all delivered babies. It is difficult to find this in larger hospitals and urban settings.

Small and friendly staff
Another advantage of working in smaller rural settings is that it is easier to get to know everyone in the hospital or clinic. I have worked in much larger settings, and it was difficult to remember the names of everyone I worked with because I met so many new people. It was a pleasure working in this smaller setting and getting to work with fewer doctors. This also meant that I was able to get to know each doctor better because I got the chance to work with them several times. At the end of the rotation, I had gotten to meet almost all of the doctors that worked on the labor and delivery service at the hospital, and many of the doctors working at the clinics as well. I was also able to get to know many of the nurses, MAs, and other staff members. This made for such a more personal and friendly experience than at some of the larger settings I have worked in.

Overall, my experience working in a rural setting was very positive. I was able to see a wider variety of patient presentations, work with family physicians who practice OB, and get to know the doctors I worked with better than if I were in a larger setting. Outside of the medical setting, I was able to explore the town a fair amount, and I fell in love with it. Santa Fe is beautiful, and although it is small, it has all the things you could want in a big city, but in a quaint and friendly setting. I would recommend Santa Fe and practicing rural medicine to any of my colleagues.