There's no place like home for one Wayne-native
For many who live in small-town rural America, the thought of relocation to a new place is often a glittering one full of temptation.
But for some, home is the same place or very near to where they grew up. Cassy Miller is one of those people.
The Wayne High grad is knee deep in medical school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha and while she could go anywhere, home is where she wants to be.
"I've always known I wanted to be a physician in a small town," Miller said. "I had a family member who was ill when I was young so we were in and out of the hospital to see them."
After graduating from Wayne High School in 2012, Miller attended Wayne State College through the Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP).
"RHOP was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It was a life changer for me. I was prepared for medical school and I can't commend them enough for that."
Once she finished at WSC in 2016, she started at UNMC for family medicine, a choice that was easy to make she said.
"I really want to do family medicine. There is a residency program with an extra year that includes c-sections and pediatrics and I'd like to get the extra training in there, so I'm looking into that."
Her remaining time at UNMC will include two rotations which vary from 6-12 weeks depending on the area and the hospital. Miller said options include obstetrics, cardiac and family medicine among others for rotation areas. Rotation allows you to experience different areas of medicine, Miller said, with "core" areas and "elective" areas that give students the ability to select paths that interest them.
Miller has three years left of med school followed by three years of residency at a teaching hospital. Omaha and Sioux City both have residency programs and she's hoping for one that focuses on rural medicine.
But the degree is only part of being a physician. The other part is an equally important one: relationships. Which is why Miller plans to return to, not just the area, but to Wayne specifically with hopes to practice at Providence Medical Center as a family physician.
"I like being able to build the relationships with people, which is easier to do in a small town as a family physician because you do a little bit of everything. Bigger hospitals don't have that."
Miller recently wrapped up three weeks of shadowing in Wayne, with majority of her time spent with Dr. Mark McCorkindale (SP) at the Faith Regional Health Services (FRHS). She also followed anesthesiologist Todd Luedeke (SP) to see additional things that weren't in the clinic, which, Miller said, showed another side of things -- inter-professional relationships.
"You have to interact with all these different sides of medicine. Teamwork and communication -- you need every part of that for it to work well. The patient is the forefront."
Miller stressed how welcoming the staff at PMC and the FHRS clinic were to her during those weeks of shadowing, stating that it really made her time there enjoyable on top of being educational.
Another perk of being back in rural Nebraska once she's done with school is the proximity to her family, as Miller said the majority of her immediate family is in the area. She also really appreciated how she was raised here and her educational opportunities in the area.
While she plans to return to the area, Miller did say her acclimating to Omaha had gone fairly well and that it helped to have her older sister Ally and her family there to spend time with as well as having several RHOP friends attending UNMC.
Miller has been an active member of the community for many years, between being involved in numerous activities in high school and college at WSC. Not only did she play softball extensively, she has coached baseball four years while in school, but this summer will be her last "free" summer as she takes on even more for her degree.
"Next summer I have Step 1 of my board exams," Miller said. "The second step will happen around year four and the final board exam is during or shortly after my residency. We get busy with rotations and clinical exams that will occur, so I won't be able to coach for a while."
Although she's disappointed she won't be coaching for the foreseeable future, Miller is committed to coming back to her home base in Wayne and making a life as a family medicine physician.