Why Idaho? A Resident's Perspective

I chose the Idaho Advanced Clinician Track for myriad reasons, principally because it places me in a premier position to be prepared for my intended future employment. I practiced and learned in the heart of a major city, working the most difficult of cases with the support of a superb academic facility. Not only did I gain experience in an urban center and the challenges it posed, I then moved to a much smaller city, now work in community hospitals, and am acquiring experience in practices such as telepsychiatry and integrated care. This provides me a wealth of information, as I am able to compare and contrast the two worlds, applying lessons learned in the city to populations in the country, understanding that at the heart of it, the people and cases are not all that different. When I go forth to practice in rural America, I feel confident I will have seen the breadth of what may greet me.

I specifically chose my program for this contrast of training styles and immense latitude in training experiences, preparing me for whichever career choice I make in the future. I view my time in Boise, ID as a polishing period, where my circumstances and patient population more closely resemble how I want to ultimately practice, and I can hone my skills to this end. It is my goal to improve care models and training models in rural areas to more equitably distribute care and to reach people in hard-to-reach locales. The University of Washington and the WWAMI model fit this goal nicely, and I feel my program and I complement each other well.

Being a small-town person, Seattle held varied challenges for me, and I appreciate my time there and what it taught me. I am adoring my time in Boise and am confident I have made the correct choice in program. The sun-filled weather, bicycle commutes, and friendly neighbors make the present a very pleasant time. From the culture of the city, to the geographic surroundings, to my colleagues and support staff, I am relishing the present and am confident it will set me up for future success.

I understand the varied challenges this program poses, and several prospective applicants ask about them: How does one manage moving mid-residency, and how does one afford to live in Seattle? I believe the benefits of working in two disparate locations and patient populations justify the major transition mid-residency. Uprooting life can be incredibly difficult, particularly for people with families, but the educational wealth and the life experiences associated with experiencing both places is unmatched. It can be challenging to afford life in Seattle on a resident’s salary, again, particularly when supporting a family. Some people take out extra student loans before graduation, others take out private loans, and others budget tightly and make it work. Moonlighting is instrumental for some, and the supplemental benefits and stipends supported through the CBA are crucial to us all, be it to pay the bills or to have the liberty to be able to enjoy the little free time available in residency.

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Thanks to Jordan Urbanek for sharing his perspective. Dr. Urbanek is a UW psychiatry resident and represents our fellow "long-distance" colleagues for the Union as a general board member.