A unique opportunity in rural medicine

For the past four weeks I have been living in Pendleton, Oregon – a town known for its grand rodeos, wool factory, and nice people. I’m completing a rotation in women’s health with one of three full-time OB/Gyn doctors serving the better part of Umatilla county. This includes 11 communities outside of Pendleton yielding a population of roughly 35,000 women seeking medical care. As you might expect, the schedule is tireless. My preceptor and I split our time between three different facilities – the women’s clinic, the hospital and the surgery center.

I started out my first week learning the art of conducting a clean, straightforward annual exam. This entailed the awkward phase of learning how to hold a speculum properly, what language to use when explaining diagnoses to patients, and then of course, how to refine my assessment and plan. Now, twelve deliveries, 3 hysterectomies, 5 tubal ligations, 4 colposcopies, and too many prenatal visits and annual exams to count later, I have found myself comfortable and confident standing opposite my preceptor as first assist on an emergency cesarean section in the OR. My rapid transition has been largely due to the endless patience and strict guidance of my preceptor and her patients. The experiences we have shared have empowered me and allowed me to redefine my own expectations.

As I wheeled a patient out of the OR today, I watched her greet her husband and embrace her new baby girl. The joy was palpable and resonated deep within me. All my long nights on call, patient charting, phone calls, studying, suturing, knotting, and repeating it in my sleep have lead up to this poignant moment where I can say I was a part of bringing new life into the world. For this opportunity, I am truly grateful.

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Comments

  1. This is an absolutely fantastic experience to read from a PA. Thank you! I am applying to the 2012 matriculation, and to be honest I was worried from reading most of the other bloggers experiences that the human body would become just another puzzle. Your story has proved that all the feeling does not exit every PA, and that gives me hope!

  2. I am Martha’s mom, and proud doesn’t even begin to capture my feelings after reading this entry. Amazement that my daughter is assisting in this most joyous event in the human experience is more like it. I have watched her long journey. I am so gratified for the opportunities she is being given.

  3. I am Martha’s terrific Uncle and as a teacher in DC I have to say that her accomplishments as a PA student and in the future, as well as in the past, have come from a fully supporting family, mainly her moms total devotion and support.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this as well. Thanks for sharing Martha!

  5. This is good news! I am really inspired of your story and it is enough to be proud of this opportunity. Keep up the good work for rural medicine.

  6. Martha,
    We are so proud of you and all that you are and all that you are accomplishing. The patients you care for are so fortunate to have you there; and what a golden opportunity for you– to grow and learn from them.
    It is obvious that you love what you are doing, and we can say from our own life experiences, “it only gets better…every day”.
    Thank you for sharing this with us. We love being a part of your journey.
    Love all ways,
    Uncle Frank and Dawn

About the Author

StudentSpeak

StudentSpeak

Ever wondered what life is like as a student at OHSU? What does it take to become a researcher? Just how gross is gross anatomy? Welcome to the blog that answers these – and many other – questions. It’s students writing first-hand about their commitment to careers in science and health care. It’s honest about the challenges as well as the joys. It’s not always pretty. But it is our story. Thank you for sharing it with us. And please, let us know what you think.

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