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Iowans meet their Match, learn next stop on road to becoming doctors

Jorgensens Match Day 2017
Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A very lucky rural Iowa community could land Shea and Michael Jorgensen as its new doctors in a few years. The couple graduate from the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine this year, will spend the next several years in residency training, and hope to practice in an area similar to where they were raised.

“I grew up in a super-small town of 250 people near Mason City. I like the connection doctors have within a small community,” says Shea, from Grafton. Michael is from Clinton.

As a participant in the college’s Rural Iowa Scholars Program (CRISP), Shea’s medical school experience included working alongside physician mentors in Decorah, Rockwell, and Muscatine; learning about rural health issues in an agricultural medicine collaboration with the UI colleges of Public Health and Nursing; and networking with UI medical students and physicians across the state who favor a small-town practice.

Her specialty, psychiatry, ranks behind only family medicine, which is Michael’s chosen specialty, and general internal medicine in the number of job openings for physicians in Iowa, according to data compiled by the Office of Statewide Clinical Education Programs at the UI Carver College of Medicine. As of September 2016, there were 210 practice opportunities in Iowa for family physicians, 86 openings in general internal medicine, and 61 openings in psychiatry.

“There is a shortage of physicians everywhere, and it’s even more pronounced in the rural areas, so there are a lot of options for us,” Michael says.

After their residency training, the Jorgensens should be heavily recruited by communities across Iowa. If they practice for at least five years in a community of fewer than 26,000 people located more than 20 miles from a city of at least 50,000 people, each could be eligible for up to $200,000 to repay student loans, either from a state-funded program or—in Shea’s case—from CRISP.

“I like the idea that I can provide a service that’s really needed. I can serve patients who would otherwise have to travel hours to see somebody or wait months for an appointment,” Shea says.

But first comes residency. They interviewed at several residency programs around the Midwest, since it was important to stay close to their families.

“It was more challenging than I thought it would be because there is so much to consider: the city, the cost of living, the residency program itself,” Shea says. “I’m not much of a city person, so for me to go to someplace with terrible traffic, I wonder if I could drive in that every day. Iowa City is the biggest place I’ve lived.”

On March 17, at Match Day, the Jorgensens learned they would do their residency training at UI Hospitals and Clinics, where Michael matched to the family medicine program and Shea matched to the psychiatry program, which is currently the state’s only psychiatric residency program.

“The family medicine residency program has rural rotations, a community health rotation that focuses on that, and a lot of elective time so whatever you want to do you can get more training in that specific area,” Michael says. “I feel incredibly grateful that I will train under some of the very best family physicians in the field. I’m confident that we’re in the right place. The staff here does everything in its power to help residents flourish.”