What the heck are these guys doing?

Matthew, Weston and Nathan are first year medical students with a passion for community health and biking. Along with Daphne, a first year Veterinary student, the 4 companions will embark on a five-week trip through 1,000 miles of rural Oregon wonder. Along the way they will be working in conjunction with the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians to facilitate community discussions on improving local healthcare options. See our photo album

Friday, July 15, 2011

My impressions of rural Oregon

For the past week I have been the photographer for the boys as they give all their presentations. As you have probably read, we have visited many little towns along the coast, and we have given presentations in Lincoln City, Florence and Reedsport. As we go along, they have been able to do quite a bit of networking, learning about being a physician in a rural place and meeting community members. That seems to be very rewarding for them. For me it has been a little different experience.

A little about me: I grew up in a rural town in Virginia and have moved around quite a bit, always to more and more urban communities. I was sure that I would be happiest in a city, but I am not sure that I knew why. It could be because city life is still new to me, or maybe because I feel good being anonymous, or maybe because of all the amenities cities have to offer. Regardless, I didn't see myself becoming going into rural veterinary practice even though I liked to think that it was still on my radar.

Travelling to these rural communities has changed my outlook. People we have visited have consistently said that the thing they like most about living in their communities is the close-knit relationships they have with their neighbors, friends and families, relationships that would not be as strong if they lived in the big city. The community feel that they are talking about is pretty infectious. We stayed in Reedsport for less than 48 hours, but we met most of the people actively involved in civic clubs and boards, and by the end of our stay, I felt like we had integrated ourselves into Reedsport pretty well. People knew us by the last presentation, and as we rolled out yesterday, it felt like we were leaving good friends behind.

It felt pretty good to be so integrated in a community like we were, and that is what has changed my mind about rural practice in the future. Even though I have been in the background of this trip, it has been transformative for my future practice plans. With that being said, I still haven't decided on a career path, but rural practice is officially in the running.

From Jul 15, 2011

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