Reflections Of A Med Student: How Practicing Medicine In Rural Kansas Taught Me To Be A Better Doctor

Former KCUR intern Stefani Fontana, now a fourth-year medical student at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, spent last summer doing a clinical rotation in western Kansas. We asked her to keep a journal of her experiences, with particular emphasis on it was like for a medical student practicing in a rural area. We’ve edited out actual names of people and places out of HIPAA considerations, but otherwise present her journals largely as she wrote them. We offer them both for the perspective they afford on the day-to-day life of a medical student and the unique challenges of practicing medicine far from an urban area.

Part 1: Go West, Young Doctor

“It was A-MAZING.” My friend Bridget had told me after she’d returned from her family medicine rotation, which she had done at a rural location. “There’s no other medical students or residents around, so you’re the only person there for them to train … so you learn to do everything.” Read More

Part 2: Getting The Hang Of Rural Kansas

By Friday I’d gotten the hang of shadowing the family medicine doctor from room to room, smiling at the patients and asking what I hoped were intelligent questions. It sounds silly to be worried about how to “follow the doctor” correctly, but if you ask too many questions at the wrong times, the shadowing experience can easily turn from professional to painful. Read More


Part 3: Learning Plenty While Dealing With A Patient Addicted to Meth


It was one of my last nights in the emergency department with Dr. O. I was looking forward to getting back to Kansas City, but I was also hoping my last night in the ED would be extremely busy. I liked how staying up all night made me feel strong and powerful, superhuman almost, to my friends outside of medicine and to the other med students who hadn’t pulled all-nighters yet. Read More

Part 4: Lessons learned

The decision to become a doctor is different for everyone, yet there are values and desires we share that have driven us all to the same conclusion. Read More

Meet The Author, Stefani Fontana

Fontana is a fourth-year medical student and native of Kansas City. Read More

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