Madison medical resident makes history

MADISON, Wis. ‒ A University of Wisconsin medical resident is making history.

On June 24, Dr. Laura McDowell will become the first graduate of a residency training program in obstetrics and gynecology focusing specifically on treating women in rural areas.

The program was started by the university in September of 2016, in response to a nationwide shortage of obstetricians and gynecologists. In Wisconsin alone, 27 out of 72 counties have no OBGYN provider, forcing some patients to drive up to 100 miles for care.

McDowell says she’s thrilled to be the first to graduate from the program. “This is more monumental than probably I understand at this point,” said McDowell. ” It’s such a value to those women to be able to stay in their communities where they feel the most comfortable rather than having to travel such a far distance for care when they’re already feeling vulnerable.”

The program is expanding beyond state borders, too. According to Residency Director Ryan Spencer, the program has received grants which have allowed directors to share their model with other schools for development and disseminate it throughout the country.

“We’re really entering a period where the idea of health disparities in general is taking off,” said Spencer. “Rural health disparities are just so important in a country like ours where so many people live in smaller communities.”

Following her residency, McDowell will move to another rural community- Wilmar, Minnesota, to practice general OBGYN.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to know my patients,” said McDowell.