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Scott Schmuki, College of Medicine student

Taking a Rural Approach to Medicine: Scott Schmuki

Growing up on a dairy farm in rural Brewster, Ohio, helped second-year Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Medicine student Scott Schmuki find his niche in medicine.

Now the president of NEOMED’s Rural Medicine Interest Group, Schmuki is a member of the Rural Medical Education (RMED) Pathway, a student-centered learning community for medicine students with rural backgrounds and career interests.

“No matter what, I want to go back to a rural setting to practice medicine,” says Schmuki. “The RMED program presents opportunities to learn about rural areas and discover how working in those settings can be different than working in a city. The rural patient populations are different, and resources for this group are often very limited.”

Learning to provide for his patients

Through PDL sessions and PACE site visits, Schmuki is learning how a strong physician-patient relationship can improve patient care. He also recognizes that those relationships may develop differently in smaller towns, where the lives of the physicians and doctors may more naturally become intertwined – say, when children of each play on the same Little League team.

“I have the opportunity to see how a great doctor-patient relationship can be through my PDL sessions and PACE assignments. In rural areas, you will run into your doctor outside of the office. Doctors and patients go to each other’s businesses. As a student, it’s about learning how to manage those relationships while abiding by HIPAA,” says Schmuki.

Putting research in rural medicine

Over the summer, Schmuki took part in the inaugural REDIzone® Future MedTech Entrepreneur Internship, a new interprofessional program supported by a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. The Internship provides medical, pharmacy, business and law students opportunities to learn about medical innovation from regional experts. (Watch the website for updated application links.)

Schmuki approached the program with a rural medicine career in in mind.

“One thing that looks promising for rural medicine is telehealth — especially with in areas with such limited resources. If I ever came up with a technology or product that would work in a rural area, how would I get the word out? Would I be able to navigate the system?

“The internship was great. It showed us how to work in the startup space and learn how the process of commercialization goes, from beginning to end,” says Schmuki.

As he begins his second year of medical school, Schmuki looks forward to returning to his rural PACE site – the highlight of his first year training to become a physician.