Karyn Cecele, MD, and Kelsey Schmidt, MD, will add the distinction of being the first graduates from the Madison Residency Rural Health Equity Track (RHET) to their long lists of accomplishments in August.

Kelsey Schmidt, MD, (left) and Karyn Cecele, MD

Kelsey Schmidt, MD, (left) and Karyn Cecele, MD

Their upcoming graduations are the culmination of a unique learning experience that combines the Madison Residency curriculum with rural-focused leadership, practice and community-based opportunities. The RHET, launched in 2018, offers a focus on rural health issues and connections within rural Wisconsin communities for doctors interested in pursuing a career in rural medicine.

A Wisconsin native, Dr. Schmidt chose rural health because it was a natural fit. “I grew up in a rural area of Wisconsin and married a beef farmer,” shared Schmidt. “I wanted to receive training in rural health advocacy and gain the skills I needed to return home and practice full-scope family medicine.  When I learned about the RHET that was starting during my intern year, it seemed like the perfect match and was an easy choice. “

The RHET leadership and quarterly workshop series helps deepen the understanding of rural health issues. Topics addressed range from rural emergency care to rural advocacy. In addition, residents attend national/regional rural health conferences twice during their three years in RHET and are active participants in the RHET Steering Committee and Advisory Board where they network with community partners and learn curriculum development.

Dr. Cecele enjoyed the program’s emphasis on forging relationships with rural health advocates.  “Residents meet with other rural health providers who are also passionate about rural health,” said Cecele. “During my residency, I worked with Jillian Landeck to implement the medication assisted therapy (MAT) program for opioid addiction in Bellville. I really felt like I was a part of something that made a difference.”

Both enjoyed getting to know patients at the UW Health clinic in Bellville, a community of about 2,300 people located 18 miles southwest of Madison. “Some of my patients specifically asked to see the ‘farmer’s wife’ as there was an article about the new intern class in the local newspaper when I started,” said Schmidt. “I enjoyed swapping farm stories and always found it comical when a patient would ask me how to treat a sick cow.” It’s a path both agree is incredibly rewarding. “This is relationship-based medicine, “added Cecele. “You work closely as a team and develop strong relationships with your patients and their families.”

Dr. Cecele will join the Mayo Clinic in Tomah, WI. Dr. Schmidt will practice at the Monroe Clinic in Brodhead, WI.

Published: July 2020