College of Idaho senior Timmer Verhaegh relishes all opportunities to learn

Timothy “Timmer” Verhaegh has a goal of becoming a doctor. The College of Idaho senior is doing everything he can in the classroom and outside of it to prepare him for medical school and eventually a career in medicine.

He’s majoring in biomedical science and Spanish with minors in psychology, and health and pre-medicine. Two summer internships with the Salmon River Clinic in Stanley, an internship at the Crookham Company in Caldwell and spending this semester studying in Spain are parts of the real-world experience he’s received.

“I wanted to have experiences outside the classroom, but I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy them and how impactful they would be,” Verhaegh said. “Something that made me want to go to the C of I was that liberal arts education. I think it’s important for everyone to be well-rounded, but I think it’s especially important for physicians. They shouldn’t just know the sciences, there’s a lot of culture in healthcare.”

Verhaegh is a recipient of a Heritage Scholarship at the College of Idaho that was funded by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. Heritage Scholarships are awarded to highly qualified students with exceptional intellectual ability. They are a part of the school’s Gipson Honors Program, which is described as an intimate and cohesive community of about 90 students. He is expected to graduate in May.

Timmer Verhaegh has been applying to medical schools while spending the fall semester studying in Spain.

Verhaegh has begun the arduous task of applying to medical schools. He has a strong interest in two area schools — the Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program and University of Utah Medical School. Both would offer him opportunities to serve his home state of Idaho. Verhaegh was born in unincorporated Owyhee County and has lived in Caldwell and Boise.

“I think his commitment to working in Idaho and becoming a bilingual physician is admirable,” said Amy Klingler, a clinician at the Salmon River Clinic. “The work he is doing in Spain in addition to all of the course work and volunteerism (including tutoring and mental health support) during his time at the College of Idaho show his dedication to helping underserved populations.”

Verhaegh’s wants to improve his Spanish-language skills stems to connect with future patients. In addition to the language, he’s enjoyed learning Spanish culture. He’s already thinking about continuing his language learning when he returns to Caldwell by offering to volunteer at Terry Reilly Health Services clinics, which serve many Spanish speakers.

“I enjoy language learning and face-to-face interaction is very important,” he said. “I made up my mind to at least improve so I can make a patient feel at ease and understand a little bit. If I’m not officially bilingual, that’s OK. But I think it makes the patient more comfortable if you can say hello to them in their language.”

Verhaegh isn’t sure what type of doctor he’ll become. He can make cases for a number of specialties, including family medicine, internal medicine, and even critical care. He’ll wait until he does more clinical rotations in medical school to make that choice.

“I think Timmer will be a great doctor because he is bright, curious, caring and thoughtful,” Klingler said. “He tries to get to know the whole patient not just the disease or illness that brought them into the clinic. His desire to connect with others in a meaningful way comes through in his interactions in the clinic and in the community.