Having done several rural rotations in Arizona and greatly enjoying my experience there, I knew I wanted to be a family physician in an underserved community. After first learning about Central Maine Medical Center Swift River Rural Training Track, I was excited about the opportunity to rotate at their rural track in Rumford.
A welcoming community
The kindness, warmth and generosity of the residents of Rumford – from my bed and breakfast hosts, to the staff and patients at the hospital, to people I have met around town – left a lasting impression of a great place to live and work. In particular, I remember meeting a vendor selling sea glass necklaces on my first day in town. Upon hearing that I would be away from my wife for a month, she gave me a necklace to give my wife and adamantly refused payment. She said the necklace was a gift to remind us of what is back in Maine after I left.
Doctor-patient relationship is more than treating an illness
An aspect that I have come to appreciate in rural medicine is the long-term relationship that a patient and doctor can develop. With this kind of relationship, you can see that the doctor genuinely cares for the patient and goes beyond treating the obvious medical issues. I saw this with an attending that took extra time with a patient he knew was having social problems. I witnessed this with another doctor who stayed well beyond her shift to support a patient undergoing a crisis. And I saw this with the residents that encouraged the community to become more active by starting a weekly walking program. In general, I was impressed to see relationships between doctors and their patients transcend generations and work toward not only treating their illnesses, but improving patients’ well-being and their communities.
This rural rotation also enabled me to experience several different aspects of the hospital in one short month. During my elective, I assisted with a delivery, rounded on the residents of a long-term care facility, participated in gynecological surgeries, and during all of this, I saw patients in the family medicine clinic. I was encouraged to participate in these different areas as I wanted to learn from such exposure. I believe that with such training, like that provided in Rumford, a physician is well prepared to handle any situation, whether in a rural or urban setting.
Outside the hospital, the rural landscape provided a beautiful backdrop to my many adventures around the area. I hiked several trails, attended a chowder festival at a nearby town, and watched a football game at a local high school. I was fortunate enough to experience the beginning of autumn in Maine, and the beauty of the many colors of the leaves allowed me to put my amateur photography skills in practice.
I am very appreciative of my experiences in Maine and grateful to be part of the wonderful medical community at Central Maine Medical Center. The doctors at the hospital taught me that medicine goes beyond treating illnesses; the people reminded me to be more appreciative of both the big and small things; the rural landscape encouraged me to be a little more adventurous. I feel that my time in Maine, however short, has allowed me to become a better student and physician.