Volunteer Experiences Helped Motivate Payette Native To Become A Doctor

Idaho WWAMI medical student Grace Meeker won the outstanding project award from the Idaho Research Expoo for her Rural Underserved Opportunities Program project.

Grace Meeker Received a Scholarship from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health to Help Her Pursue a Career in Medicine

 

Grace Meeker decided she wanted to become a doctor after she volunteered with hospice care and the American Red Cross as a high school student. Those experiences definitely impacted the Payette, Idaho, native.

“Being in a place where you can provide some form of comfort or assistance to another person who needed it was one of the most humbling experiences,” she said. “The medical field can be such a giving field to work in.”

Meeker is a third-year medical student in the WWAMI Medical Education Program, a five-state regional partnership between the University of Washington School of Medicine and the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI). The Idaho WWAMI program allows 80 students – all of whom call the Gem State home – to attend their first two years of medical school at the University of Idaho.

Grace Meeker earned her undergraduate degree from the College of Idaho.

Meeker earned undergraduate degrees from Treasure Valley Community College and the College of Idaho before starting medical school, where she made an instant impression.

“The irrepressible, exuberant Grace Meeker can be relied on to find the best in every person and every situation,” said Benjamin Adkins, M.D., who was on faculty at the University of Idaho when Meeker started medical school. “The best rise to the top, and that’s where you will find Grace.”

Meeker received a Rural Initiative Scholarship from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health that will help her pursue a career in medicine. Idaho has a physician shortage, and the lack of healthcare providers in remote parts of the state is of critical concern in the Gem State. Rural Initiative Scholarships are awarded to medical students in the Idaho WWAMI program who demonstrate a commitment to practicing medicine in rural Idaho.

Before enrolling in WWAMI, Meeker worked as an Emergency Department Scribe and Unit Clerk at Saint Alphonsus in Ontario, Oregon. Not surprisingly, Meeker made a positive impression on the emergency team there.

“Grace was incredibly helpful, kind and really exemplified excellent service with a smile,” said Anna LaRosa, the facility’s Director of Operations and Patient Care. “I’m so proud of her and can’t wait to see what an incredible physician she becomes.”

Grace Meeker, left, with several of her classmates after they received their white lab coats at a ceremony at the University of Idaho.

Today, Meeker is a TRUST (Targeted Rural Underserved Track) scholar within WWAMI, meaning she has been matched with a rural community in Idaho – Valley County, in her case – and returns there every year throughout medical school to learn firsthand what broad-spectrum medicine looks like in an underserved or rural community.

“Rural communities provide unique challenges and circumstances that may not be obvious to those living in urban areas,” she said. “It requires a different mindset and meeting those challenges intrigues me.”

Ultimately, Meeker aims to use her medical training to give back to the people and places she loves.

“I would like to return to Payette and be able to farm and ranch in my spare time,” she said. “I would like to return all of the capital, time and effort to my community, as they have helped me fulfill my dream of becoming a physician.”