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Focus on Rural Health

A Wider Lens

Community Showcases broaden the view for future practice opportunities.

By Stacy Kusler on

For the second year in a row, North Dakota communities were able to connect with our state's medical students and residents at the annual Community Showcase events held between March 8 and April 6.

Laura Fiedler
Laura Fiedler from Northland Health Center shares information about their various locations.

More than 50 students, residents, and their guests attended one or more of the four showcase events held in Minot, Fargo, Grand Forks, and Bismarck. The events were a collaborative effort of the Center for Rural Health, the UND SMHS Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, and the Area Health Education Center. The purpose of the Community Showcases is to make early connections between future physicians and North Dakota healthcare facilities to increase chances of recruiting physicians back to the state, or to stay in the state after residency.

Twenty-three different North Dakota healthcare facilities enjoyed the opportunity to connect with an audience they rarely get to see or communicate with.

Laura Fiedler is the outreach and enrollment coordinator for Northland Health Centers, which has 11 medical and dental locations in rural or underserved areas across the state. She attended two of the four Showcase events.

"The Community Showcases were a wonderful opportunity to introduce our local clinics to young medical professionals," she said.

The unique layout of the Showcases allowed each facility, large or small, to have the stage in front of the entire audience to share a brief five-minute snapshot of what it's like to live and work in their respective communities. Facility representatives, medical students, and residents then had the chance to introduce themselves and network further with each other after the presentations concluded.

Bismarck Showcase
Students and residents introduce themselves at Bismarck Showcase on April 6.

"Presenting to the entire group enabled us to make the case for the importance of rural healthcare and the large impact these young professionals could have in a small community," Fiedler said.

Other facilities enjoyed the smaller, less-crowded atmosphere that the Showcases offered. Steph Everett, foundation director for Mountrail County Health Foundation, attended three of the four events on behalf of Mountrail County Health Center in Stanley, North Dakota.

"It's a very comfortable setting where the students and the facilities can really visit with each other one-on-one very easily," she said.

Rocky Zastoupil, CEO, also from Mountrail County Health, attended the Showcase events for the second year in a row.

"I felt this year was fantastic because it enabled us to speak to medical students who were from rural North Dakota and rural U.S.A., making it realistic for planting seeds with potential providers," he said.

Just as the facilities enjoyed a chance to promote their practice to future physicians, the students and residents also enjoyed learning about the various opportunities that exist across North Dakota. Kimberly and Luke Hushagen, both fourth-year medical students (and now graduates of the MD Class of 2017), attended the Bismarck Community Showcase.

This husband and wife duo are both from North Dakota, and both matched to residency programs in Hershey, Pennsylvania; Kimberly in pediatrics and Luke in internal medicine, which will eventually lead to hematology and oncology. Kimberly was excited to learn about areas in North Dakota that would allow her and her husband to return to practice here.

"There will be the ability to practice beyond primary care in North Dakota and outside of the four major cities," she said.

She added that she and her husband learned, through the Showcase event, about communities that are expanding medical services, which would allow them to both live and practice in areas of the state they didn't think were possible given their respective specialties.

Grand Forks Showcase
Students talk with representatives from various North Dakota healthcare facilities at the Grand Forks showcase on April 5.

Shane Gores, a second-year medical student, attended the Grand Forks event. While the Grand Forks native is still deciding between emergency medicine and internal medicine, he felt the Showcase event was worth his time. "It was a great event, and I learned more than I would have thought about organizations and communities around the state," he said.

The showcase events were supported by Trinity Health, Sanford Health, and Altru Health System. The next showcase events are tentatively planned for the spring of 2018.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of North Dakota Medicine.

Stacy Kusler Stacy Kusler is the connection between rural healthcare facilities in North Dakota and qualified health professional job seekers. As the workforce specialist, she assists rural facilities to attract medical providers and other health professionals to their communities by sharing job opportunities. Through her position, Stacy is working to reduce the healthcare workforce shortages throughout the state.