A Q&A with Dr. Lauren Walsh, Lakeland RTT’s newest faculty member

Lauren Walsh, MD, MPH

Dr. Lauren Walsh combines rural medicine, women’s health with obstetrics and resident teaching in her role as a faculty member at the Lakeland RTT, an academic partner of the DFMCH.

Recent alumna Lauren Walsh, MD, MPH (Madison ’18), joined the Aurora Lakeland Rural Training Track (RTT) in October 2018.

How would you describe your clinical practice and teaching responsibilities?

I’m based at the Aurora Lakeland Family Medicine Clinic in Elkhorn, Wisconsin; we do full-scope, outpatient family medicine. I focus on women’s health with obstetrics and am the first family physician in this part of the Aurora system to do that.

I’m in clinic two half-days per week. I also lead half-day per week didactic sessions, staff residents four half-days per week and supervise residents with obstetrics patients.

Why academic family medicine, and why the Lakeland RTT?

I always knew I wanted to do rural medicine. I grew up on our family farm near Beloit, Wisconsin, and my husband grew up on a former dairy—now bison—farm north of Milwaukee. Coming back to a rural community was like coming home to me.

I’m still very close to my family’s farm, and my husband and I play a huge role there on the weekends. We want to bring his family’s bison onto our farm this summer or next.

I always thought I would be a rural doctor in my own clinic, with my own patients. But academic family medicine was appealing because I like teaching residents. The Wisconsin Office of Rural Health’s physician recruitment program helped me get connected with the Lakeland program.

What experience during residency best prepared you for your job now?

Being a chief resident during my third year was the best preparation I could have. I was also able to co-staff with my attendings, which was excellent preparation for building my confidence and skill set.

Dr. Walsh and daughter

Dr. Walsh and daughter Saoirse at their family farm.

Which mentors from residency stand out?

Dr. Jensi Carlson would always make sure the ball was in our court when we were talking with patients. She really wanted us to have ownership of that patient and their experience. That’s something I’ve emulated with our residents and they love it.

Dr. Rich Roberts was such a great storyteller. He would always be able to bring it back to why family doctors were important and why we should value ourselves and our different skill sets. If having a therapeutic visit with a patient every month keeps them out of the hospital and gives them a listening ear, then it’s doing a lot for them. I always remember that and try to remind my residents of that.

I also really enjoyed working with Dr. Brian Arndt. He’s very efficient in his teaching; he instilled knowledge by not overwhelming us with information, but instead coming up with takeaways that would stick.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

We have great residents who are eager to learn and excited about increasing their knowledge base. They have been just wonderful, and have embraced me as a new faculty member.

What do you hope to accomplish now?

I’m looking forward to changing the culture of medicine that patients have known: that they have to go to an OB/GYN for a well-woman exam. People are surprised that I do that; that it’s a one-stop shop—but I think patients like it.

Published: May 2019