Intent on coming back home

? New physician Alisa Schmidt is fulfilling her goal of serving her hometown.

?I like Hillsboro,? says the 2003 Hillsboro High School grad. ?I felt like my education here was really great, and I want that for my children.? Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

While many small-town youth can hardly wait to make their personal and career mark in the big city, Alisa Schmidt could hardly wait to come back to her hometown to make hers.

Schmidt completed her final residency rotation at Hills?boro Community Hospital and Clinic June 26, and will officially begin her family medical practice July 20 as a full-time physician.

She said she can hardly wait to get started. But why in her hometown?

?I like Hillsboro,? said the 2003 Hillsboro High School graduate. ?I felt like my education here was really great, and I want that for my children.

?I have been very passionate about the health care of people in Hillsboro,? she added. ?I have seen how people have aged as I?ve been away. I just want to be a part of making them as healthy as they can be.?

Early attraction

Schmidt said she set her sights on a career in medicine in the sixth grade.

?I wanted to be a teacher before that, but then thought I would be frustrated in the classroom,? she said, because she wouldn?t be able to spend enough one-on-one time with students who were struggling.

?I didn?t think I would be happy with that, so I started thinking about other things that sounded interesting, and being a doctor did.?

The interest runs in the family. Her grandmother, Phoebe Jost Glanzer, was head nurse at the local hospital and nursing home for many years. Her father, Lynn Jost, was accepted into medical school upon his graduation from Tabor College, but opted for seminary and a career in church ministries instead.

Schmidt?s interest in medicine heightened during the summer of her sophomore year, when she traveled to India with her father, who had accepted a short-term teaching assignment there. She observed medical care in a church-run hospital.

?I got to be in surgeries, attend deliveries?I loved all of that,? Schmidt said. ?The rules (in India) are more relaxed so I got to do things.?

Education track

After high school, Schmidt continued her education at Tabor, where she earned her undergraduate degree in bio-chemistry. By then she had married fellow student Ben Schmidt, and the couple were living in California for his seminary studies.

Alisa took a year off from her educational track with the birth of their first child, June, now 7. Joining the family later were Hudson, now 5, and Pearl, 2.

After taking her Medical College Admission Test, Schmidt applied to the KU School of Medicine and was accepted.

?KU has real high rankings for rural medicine, family medicine and geriatrics?those were the things I was most interested in at the time,? she said about her choice. ?I didn?t think I needed to apply anywhere else.?

Schmidt spent the first two years of didactic training in Kansas City, then went to the Wichita campus for two years to complete her clinicals.

During her fourth year of medical school, Schmidt declared her intention to pursue family medicine?in large part because she and her family were still intent on coming back to Hillsboro.

?They don?t really need specialists in Hillsboro,? she said. ?And in family medicine you get to do almost everything. I was excited about that.?

Another draw was the opportunity to be involved with patients from infancy to elder care.

?I love the idea that you get to start at the very beginning and go all the way through to end of life and see whole generations of families,? she said. ?If you know the family history because you?re taking care of the older generation, you can do a better job for the younger generation.

?I love that idea.?

Schmidt also loves the diversity of situations that arise in family medicine.

?You don?t get bored, because it?s different every single day,? she said. ?You?re not doing heart murmurs every day, or whatever.?

For her residency requirements, Schmidt applied to the Smoky Hill Family Medicine program based in Salina, and was one of four applicants to be accepted.

?I wanted to go to a place that taught you how to be a rural doctor,? she said. ?That?s what Smoky Hill is really good at. I?ve done three years there now and I have loved it. It?s been a lot of work, but it?s been really, really good. I feel like I?m very well trained to be here.?

Better at home

The past month working at the local hospital and clinic is the final rotation in her residency program. She graduates Friday.

Schmidt, who worked numerous ?moonlighting? weekends at HCH during her residency, is ready to make her involvement at the hospital permanent.

?It is an amazing hospital, actually,? she said. ?When my friends (in med school) tell me where they?re going, I tell them one of my nurses worked in an ICU at Wesley, one of them used to do ER in Newton, one of them used to be a paramedic and did trauma, and one of them used to work in a prison.

?I have so much experience in my nursing staff,? she said. ?You don?t get that in most small towns. Small town to small town, apples to apples, this is a wonderful place.?

While some people seek care in large hospitals 30 to 50 minutes away, Schmidt believes there?s value in receiving high-quality care locally, beginning with a personal physician.

?Your doctor knows you,? she said. ?There?s that whole relationship and continuity of care. Handoffs (from one doctor to another) are where about 90 percent of medical errors happen. To have just one person really taking care of you, and kind of being the middle of the wheel, makes a huge difference for your care.

?It?s just better to be at home,? she added. ?Your spouse can visit you, your kids can come visit you. If it?s had its shots, your dog can come visit you. Those are things you?re just not going to get anywhere else.?

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