Aspirus Wausau Hospital residents get unique learning experienceSubmitted: 01/19/2017
WAUSAU - Caitlin Harris recently began her family medicine residency at Aspirus Wausau Hospital. She is originally from California.

"A lot of people say 'what are you doing out here in Wausau' and 'can you handle the winters?'" said Harris. 

You would think that someone who grew up Los Angeles would want to be closer to the hustle and bustle of city life. Not Caitlin.

"I did my undergraduate training and medical school in a big city and now I just love living in my cabin in the woods," said Harris.

Not everyone is as big of a fan of small town living as Harris. Rural residency programs sometimes have a hard time attracting doctors. 

"Everyone needs a family doctor in their home town so you have to get people who spend years and years of extra graduate level training to be happy living in any small town all over America, and sometimes that can be a challenge," said Harris.

Aspirus is affiliated with the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The family medicine residency program is the only residency in the area, so residents like Caitlin get well-rounded training in their field. 

"I would learn skills to be able to do procedures and deliver babies and just take care of whatever would come into my office," said Harris. 

While some residents might be unsure of the small town at first, many grow to like the area and being able to work in a hospital that sees patients from all over the Northwoods. Alexandra Oleinik is one of those residents.

"Central Wisconsin is kind of a remote area and if you're not from the Midwest you might not know about our town or Wausau itself but it has a lot of charm and I've really grown to love it," said Oleinik.

Oleinik learns from it too. She is getting some experiences she might not in a bigger program. 
"This program and Wausau itself has a really strong commitment to family practice. It has a really good reputation here in the community," said Oleinik. 

The charm of the Northwoods wins of lot of people over. Harris isn't planning on moving anytime soon.
"I really enjoying it a lot and I might just stay for a while and end up staying forever," said Harris. 

Story By: Rose McBride

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