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Training Idaho’s Future Rural Doctors

Megan Webber, a third-year medical student at the University of Washington, is serving a five-month rural rotation at St. Luke’s McCall. Part of her experience includes training with Dr. Maureen “Mo” Ferguson at St. Luke’s Clinic – Payette Lakes Medical Clinic. Webber was able to provide support during the delivery of baby Charlotte Greenwood, shown here with Webber and Dr. Ferguson.
By Laura Crawford, News and Community
April 26, 2017

Meghan Webber’s first experience with health care was at the hospital in McCall when she was 8 years old. She had a mountain biking accident and her parents rushed her to the emergency department during their annual family vacation in McCall.

Fast forward 19 years and you may see Webber treating patients in the emergency department or family medicine clinic.

Webber is a third-year medical student at the University of Washington and is serving a five-month rural rotation at St. Luke’s McCall. She’s participating in a five-state regional medical education program called WWAMI – the letters stand for the five states involved – that trains medical students for careers in the underserved areas in the regions of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

Webber’s goal is to practice in a rural area, she’s interested in both family and emergency medicine. The benefits to working in a rural area? She’ll have ample opportunity to do both.

“In a rural area, you are truly invested in the community and have a sense of ownership of your patients’ well-being and health,” Webber said.

Dr. Maureen “Mo” Ferguson joined St. Luke’s Clinic – Payette Lakes Medical Clinic in 2015. She studied in the WWAMI program and serves as Webber’s physician preceptor and the clinic’s WWAMI site director, taking over from Dr. Dave Hall, who served in the role for nearly 20 years.

“My experience in McCall as a medical student and resident was incredible. I want Meghan and all students to have the same experience as I did,” Ferguson said.

Webber spends time with each of the family medicine physicians gaining experience in the clinic, emergency department and surgery.

“I am loving every part of my experience. Working and learning from all the family medicine physicians and their patients is amazing,” she said.

Among Webber’s first patients were Meredith and Mathew Greenwood of Council, who were expecting their first child in March. Meredith grew up in Reno, Nevada, and settled in Council after marrying her husband, whose family are long-time cattle ranchers in the community.

Not knowing much about St. Luke’s McCall and the doctors, Greenwood was anxious when she found out she was pregnant. She thought the couple might have to travel to Boise for appointments and to deliver her baby.

The Greenwoods ended up choosing Dr. Ferguson and St. Luke’s McCall. Turns out the Greenwood family has a relationship with Dr. Jim Dardis, who previously practiced family medicine in McCall and New Meadows.

“We knew Dr. Ferguson trained under Dr. Dardis when she was a student and resident, so we trusted her, and now Meghan is training with Dr. Ferguson. It feels familial,” said Meredith Greenwood. 

The Greenwoods were pleasantly surprised about the quality and experience of the care team and the comprehensive obstetrical care available at the hospital.

“We had access to every resource we needed and feel the care was even better than a large hospital because we got to know the doctors and nurses more intimately.”

Meredith began her prenatal care with Dr. Ferguson at the St. Luke’s Clinic - Meadow’s Valley Family Medicine in New Meadows and was introduced to Webber in January.

“We were honored to have Meghan be a part of our care. We feel it is our duty to support medical students’ education and hands-on experience,” Meredith Greenwood said. “Plus she really knows her stuff, on top of being friendly and personable.”

The Greenwoods planned for a natural labor and birth and felt prepared for the arrival of their baby girl.

“I got nervous when I went into labor and then our birth plan was almost immediately thrown out the window,” Meredith Greenwood said.

Her water broke before she started having contractions. In such instances if labor does not progress in a timely fashion there can be an increased likelihood of infection for mom and baby.

“Dr. Ferguson and the nurses provided us with all the options and information about what may happen, and were upfront and honest on the potential risks,” she said. “It was our choice in what we wanted to do.”

They chose to take Pitocin, a labor-inducing drug, to help start labor contractions.

“I felt so vulnerable and exposed. It made all the difference to us that we had built such strong relationships with Dr. Ferguson, Meghan and all the nurses.”

When delivery was imminent and it was time to start pushing, Webber was right there.

“She must have coaching experience, because she was good at cheering me on. I’ll never forget it.”

Baby Charlotte is a healthy and thriving little baby.

“I felt genuinely cared for. It was the little things that made a difference, things like a hand on my shoulder and a kind word when I needed it. I felt it couldn’t have gone any better.”

Webber’s rotation lasts until June, but she already knows the best part of the job. Working in obstetrics has been her favorite part of her rotation in McCall.

“You get to interact with the whole family: mom, dad, baby, siblings and grandparents,” she said. “And you get to be a part of the whole continuum of care: prenatal, delivery, postnatal and newborn care.”

St. Luke’s has a long tradition of training Idaho’s doctors of the future. WWAMI students and residents also study at St. Luke’s hospitals in Jerome and Wood River.  Last year, Dr. Josh Kern, family medicine physician with St. Luke’s Family Medicine in Jerome, received the Dr. Judd Lunn Memorial Idaho WWAMI Teacher of the Year Award and in 2015, the University of Washington selected St. Luke’s Wood River for Emergency Medicine Residency Program.

About The Author

Laura Crawford works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.

Related Facility

St. Luke's McCall Medical Center
1000 State St.
McCall, ID 83638
(208) 634-2221

Related Clinic

St. Luke's Clinic – Payette Lakes Family Medicine
211 Forest St.
McCall, ID 83638
(208) 634-2225

Related Provider

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Maureen F. Ferguson, MD