Returning to Roots: Rural Idaho Draws WWAMI Student
Routine visits to the doctor don’t often inspire life dreams. As a child in Grangeville, Maureen FitzMaurice’s family doctor attended her birth and delivered all her siblings as well. That doctor is still practicing medicine today and his example of selfless service to a small community inspired FitzMaurice.
“I knew I wanted to do family medicine, and I wanted to come back to Idaho to focus on rural medicine and primary care,” says FitzMaurice.
It was because of her passion -- and Dr. Wayne Hollopeter -- that she applied to the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) Medical Education Program.
She spent her first year in Moscow with about 40 Idaho and Washington students. After graduating from Whitman College, FitzMaurice was excited to head to Moscow to study, since several of her friends had attended the University of Idaho and loved it. She too fell in love with the campus.
“It was nice being in smaller classes and getting to know your classmates and professors,” says FitzMaurice. “It’s really tough the first year; there’s a lot on your plate.”
She spent her second year at the University of Washington in Seattle with WWAMI class members from all five states. For her third year, FitzMaurice did clinical rotations largely in McCall with family practice physicians, but she also spent time in Washington, Alaska and Montana. Her final year has been spent doing the Idaho track, with a majority of her rotations in Boise, as well as a rotation in Seattle and in Ghana, where she spent two months doing women’s health. Prior to attending medical school, FitzMaurice enrolled in the Peace Corps, but was not able to finish her term. Going back is her way of wrapping up the experience.
“I wanted to return in a different capacity and spend time abroad before I started working,” says FitzMaurice.
As she gets ready to graduate, she is planning a three-year family medicine residency, with a fellowship in obstetrics. Ultimately, her goal is to work in a small town in Idaho; she may even inspire another young doctor to follow in her footsteps.