If you want an example of the success of a new effort to get more physicians into rural communities, look at CALS biochemistry grad Gena Cooper, suggests Robert Golden, Dean of the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. Golden describes Cooper in a recent Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel op-ed column describing the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine, which selects medical students who are most likely to pursue rural practice.

Here’s an excerpt:

Gena grew up on a farm in Mukwonago. After college, Gena was selected to serve as “Alice in Dairyland,” a highly visible spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. Gena’s determination to become a rural doctor grew out of her experience trailing her town’s surgeon, a family friend, on his hospital rounds. Gena was struck by the array of situations the doctor encountered, and his enormous impact on the lives of his patients. She learned about WARM right at its inception from an agriculture industry newspaper. She was excited about the prospect of completing clinical rotations in rural settings, and the WARM program recognized that Gena was precisely the type of student we wanted.

Like most WARM graduates to date, Gena matched in a primary care (pediatrics) residency program. She and her husband own a 120-head dairy cow farm in Columbus, and when she completes her residency training next year, she plans to practice in a similar community.