I grew up in Livonia, Michigan, and attended the University of Michigan for my undergraduate studies, where I volunteered at the Joy-Southfield Health and Education Center, a Detroit-based free clinic. In the 10-minute drive between my childhood home and the clinic, maternal mortality rates tripled. Access to fresh foods plummeted. Childhood asthma rates doubled. I viewed these inequities as shameful and immoral, and felt obligated to use my privilege to combat health disparities and structural racism. I obtained a Master of Public Health degree and began a career in health care quality improvement, first at the Upham’s Corner Health Center in Boston, and then at Providence ElderPlace in Seattle after following my partner to Washington. While I enjoyed quality improvement, I came to realize that my most enjoyable days were those spent with patients and the community: observing patient visits, distributing produce bags, and helping children to harvest vegetables in a community garden. I also noticed a common theme in Detroit’s Cody Rouge, Boston’s Dorchester, and Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhoods: an unmet need for primary care providers for these diverse and vibrant communities. Thus, I resolved to become a family physician to help meet the health needs of urban underserved communities, and to advocate for health equity and social justice.
I was fortunate to join the Inaugural Class of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and the Everett learning community, and quickly learned that I was surrounded by an incredible group of classmates and lifelong friends,” says Schmidt.
As a medical student, I co-founded our Family Medicine Interest Group to increase student interest in family medicine and support future family physicians in their education and advocacy efforts. I led our Independent Student Analysis Task force, a student group that conducted a survey of the College of Medicine students as part of our school’s application for accreditation by the LCME. I participated in community organizing efforts through the Spokane Alliance, and in conservation efforts with the Dishman Hills Conservancy. From 2019-2020, I served as Medical Student Co-Trustee to the Washington Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors. I am also a member of the student Anti-Oppression Task Force, working to combat racism in medicine and medical education. Finally, I made time for fun during medical school, playing ice hockey with Spokane Women’s Hockey (special shout-out to the faithful and loud College of Medicine cheering section!), going backcountry or resort skiing as much as possible, and getting into new hobbies like mountain biking and rock climbing.
I decided to become a doctor to help promote health equity through primary care in urban underserved communities, and this aligns perfectly with the College of Medicine’s mission to train physicians to thrive in challenging health care environments. As an Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine student, I became deeply involved in the Health Equity Circle, organizing with the Spokane Alliance to promote health equity in Spokane. Additionally, I pursued rotations to improve my skills in the care of underserved populations, including Street Medicine, Medical Spanish, and a rotation at the Lummi Tribal Health Center. I continue my commitment to carrying out WSU’s mission by practicing family medicine in an underserved community, and through my experiences as a medical student, I feel equipped and energized to continue caring for these populations.
I aim to be a family physician at an urban federally-qualified health center, promoting health equity and justice by providing full-spectrum primary care and obstetrics with a focus on social medicine. I am particularly interested in caring for communities of color, people experiencing homelessness, LGBTQ+ populations, the elderly, and patients with substance use disorders and psychiatric conditions.
I also plan to use my privilege as a physician to continue to organize and advocate for equity around the social determinants of health – housing, food, racism, education, health insurance – which often impact patients’ health outcomes far more than their medical care,” says Schmidt.