Montesano – Spring 2012

Montesano was a great place for a resident WWAMI experience! I encourage everyone who wants a WWAMI experience, but can’t be away from Seattle for 4 complete weeks (because of family, significant others, etc) to consider Montesano.

Montesano is a tiny little town, west of Olympia, out towards the Washington Coast. Though it brags of a population of 3500, it feels much smaller than this.  There is a grocery store, a few restaurants, a drug store and a coffee shop, most of these things close down by the evening.  There is a state park at the north end of town and a lot of beautiful countryside around Montesano. The town is about 10 miles east of Aberdeen which is, by far, the bigger town. This town has a couple more grocery stores, some bigger drug stores, some nightlife, more restaurants and a couple of museums. Not too much farther away is Ocean Shores which is a neat little beach community.  It is the greenest part of Washington I have personally seen, probably because it gets a very healthy amount of rainfall! Logging used to be the big industry, but Montesano is also home to the county jail, county court and sheriff’s office. The unofficial town slogan, at least according to Wikipedia, is “Come on Vacation, Leave on Probation!”

Housing is provided in the “med student house”. It’s a three bed-room house with a very decent kitchen, two living rooms, a dining room, back deck and large back yard. There is a washer and dryer on site. The house is literally located 1.5 blocks from the clinic and about 5 blocks from the grocery store and “center of town”. Though you need a car to get to Montesano from Seattle or to commute between Montesano and Aberdeen, you definitely can live in Montesano and barely drive at all. There isn’t much public transportation and I think the options are pretty limited in terms of getting to Montesano without a car.  Its about a 1.5-2hour drive from Seattle, depending on traffic. I came home to see my husband each weekend and the drive was very doable at peak traffic times.

The clinical experience is great! You will spend most of your time at the Montesano Internal Medicine Clinic. It is staffed by two, UW-grad, MDs – Ki and Clara Shin. There is also a nurse practitioner and a PA working there part time. It was a great way to experience “real world” primary care away from a tertiary referral center and to learn the skills of how to manage a variety of problems when there isn’t a CT scanner or cardiologist just down the hallway. Grey’s Harbor has limited sub-specialty care and most of those referrals go to Olympia.  Ki and Clara want to make the experience as personalized and as hands on as possible from seeing as many patients as possible to doing as many procedures as possible, while helping to manage the workload to learning is emphasized! In addition to the medical learning, Ki and Clara were also very open about how to start and manage a small practice as well as sharing their philosophic approach to primary care. Those conversations have really changed how I approach primary care as well as how I feel about it as a career option. I also spent time in another clinic in Aberdeen, run by a UW-grad. This MD is “the whole package” from seeing patients in clinic to rounding on his primary care patients who get hospitalized. He has a different approach to the general internist career and lifestyle and I really learned a lot from the week I spent with him.  Finally, I spent a week with the hospitalist service at the Grays Harbor Community Hospital. It feels like Harborview gets a lot of patients transferred from there and it was really interesting to see the other side of that equation. It’s a busy service, with limited sub-specialty backup, but a great way to learn about common hospitalized problems. It’s also an open ICU. My week there was slightly limited as I didn’t have the ability write orders independently, but they are working on that issue so that future residents can have a more independent experience.

All in all, this is a great experience and I would HIGHLY recommend Montesano!!

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