I grew up in a small town in northwest Oklahoma. I moved to the “big city” in 2000 to go to college, work and eventually go to medical school. Although my husband and I have built a life together, the city just doesn’t feel like home. Throughout medical school my plan was to be a family practice physician in an underserved area. It is fortunate for me that many of the underserved areas are also rural areas. After discussing the options available for residency we decided that Maine looked like a wonderful place for outdoor life and excellent training. So, I scheduled a month rotation with the Swift River Rural Track, part of the Central Maine Medical Center Family Medicine Residency program, in my fourth year to get an idea of what the training might be like away from an academic medical center.

A friendly and welcoming environment
From the time I arrived in Rumford, ME until the day that I left, I felt very welcomed and excited to be there. I had the opportunity to see a lot of patients in two different clinics as well as round on patients in the hospital. The hospital was the first exposure I have had to a critical access hospital. It was very interesting to learn the history and the unique challenges that are faced by the hospital. The focus on admission is stabilizing and assessing the patient to see if they need to be transported to a higher level of care. As most of my training has been in an academic center with a level 1 trauma center, this was a new experience. I was very impressed by the speed and confidence and the quality of care that I saw.

Broad scope of practice
I really enjoyed the outpatient experience and the faculty that I worked with in clinic. It was encouraging to see the broad spectrum of practice that the rural physicians are able to do. From nursing homes to home visits to OB and clinic and the hospital, the physicians were able to handle every patient that came through the door. I also appreciated the depth of the relationships they were able to cultivate with their patients. In a small town everyone knows everyone and word of mouth is critical. In some cases the entire family from the newborn to great-grandmother went to the same doctor. This gave the physician unique insight into the social situation of the family and which options for treatment might be better.

A great place to practice medicine and raise a family
In addition to being a great place to work, the rural area is a great place to live. There are a lot of ways to be involved in the community outside of just being the doctor. The people of the area were very kind and gracious. I instantly felt at home and was invited in by the community. Overall, I think a rural area would be a great place to practice medicine and a great place to raise a family. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to experience a rural area before beginning residency. It solidified my dedication to underserved and rural populations.