by Sarah Stuart
Every summer for the last 11 years, Dr. Suzanna Hubele, M.D. has been imparting her wisdom and showing future physicians the rewarding benefits of being a family physician in a rural setting. WWAMI-Idaho, Idaho’s Medical School who works in partnership with the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, has a summer program called Rural Underserved Opportunities Program or RUOP.
RUOP is a program that provides first and second year medical students the opportunity to spend four weeks working with rural family physicians in a hands-on experience in the medical field. During these four weeks, students work with physicians in rural or urban underserved communities in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. The goal of RUOP is to expose students to the challenges and rewards of practicing medicine in these settings early in their education. It is also meant to promote a positive outlook in regards to serving these areas and to provide an opportunity to see health care systems in these environments function.
Dr Hubele has been involved with RUOP and WWAMI-Idaho for many years. She stated that she has always known she wanted to practice medicine in a small town setting. During her junior year of high school, Dr. Hubele was given the opportunity to get some hands-on experience in rural medicine through WWAMI-Idaho. Between her first and second years of medical school at WWAMI-Idaho, she was able to have her own experience with RUOP by spending a month in Hailey, ID learning about rural family medicine.
Finally, eleven years ago, she was able to to become the educator when she began having students who were participating in RUOP join her at Two Rivers Medical Clinic in Weiser for four weeks of learning. Dr Hubele and Dr. Lore Wootton, another physician at Two Rivers Medical Clinic, typically have one RUOP student each summer.
Samia Munayirji, RUOP student currently learning about rural family medicine at the Weiser clinic, was excited to “get her feet wet” in this field of medicine. She was looking forward to learning what life is like for a family physician in a rural setting and she has appreciated the sense of community she found in Weiser. She also enjoys that she not only gets to know the her patient but also the family in this particular medical setting.
Dr Hubele is also on the board of the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians. Each year, they assist students to attend the National Conference for Medical Student. She proudly stated that all but one of the students they have helped attend have gone into the field of family medicine.
It is people like Dr. Hubele and Dr. Wootton that make Weiser proud. Hopefully some of these students will one day return to Weiser or other small communities to practice medicine due to these doctors’ influences.