“These weeks on Orcas Island will be the most time I’ve ever spent in a small, rural community,” said Conor Senecal, a second-year University of Washington medical student who is nearing the end of a month-long study program at Orcas Medical Center.
“It’s obvious that a family practice that’s on an island has to be ready to address a wide range of medical issues,” he said. “I’m learning a lot by observing how Dr. Tony Giefer and Dr. Jim Litch go about understanding and responding to so many different patient needs.”
Senecal is here as part of the Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP), in which Orcas Medical Center participates with the University of Washington School of Medicine. The program is a four-week immersion experience in community medicine for students between their first and second years of medical school. Students live in rural or urban underserved communities throughout Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. They work side-by-side with local physicians.
Senecal, now 26, grew up in Tacoma, Wash., one of five children in his family. His father is an oncologist, and his mother an oncology nurse. He earned his Bachelor of Arts at Gonzaga University, majoring in business administration. After graduation, he taught math and science to middle school kids for a year as part of a Jesuit Volunteer Corps team in New Jersey.
OMC Medical Director Dr. Tony Giefer enjoys participating in the UW program. He believes that experienced family physicians have a responsibility to help educate future doctors.