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Family Medicine Clerkship

Family medicine clerkships can be completed at the Barre Family Health Center on Martha's Vineyard, or at other practices, including ones on the Cape, in the Berkshires, or in the Pioneer Valley. 

"After spending time in Barre, Mass for my first year clerkship and then spending the summer between 1st and 2nd year working at the rural health clinic in Martha's Vineyard, I realize there is much more than just lifestyle that appeals to me about rural medicine."

-Amanda, UMass Chan '08

Elaine’s experience in Barre

“I did my FM clerkship in Barre and had a very positive experience. All of the attendings I worked with were great teachers and encouraged hands-on learning. I had a variety of experiences, including exposure to some procedures such as punch biopsies, vasectomy, skin excisions, casting, colposcopy, and IUD placement. I also had several opportunities to get to know the community by visiting the local senior center, high school, dairy farm, saw mill, and pharmacy. Overall, Barre was a great place to get a feeling for family medicine in a small town setting. I also found being at a FM resident training site helpful in getting a realistic idea of what FM residency would be like.”

-Elaine, UMass Chan '08

Amanda's experience in Barre

The rural health scholars was a pivotal part of my decision to pursue a residency in family medicine. Because I was a part of the rural health scholars I was given the opportunity to rotate through the family medicine clinic in Barre Massachusetts, a small town north of Worcester. I absolutely fell in love with the field at that point. I was so inspired by the attendings and residents I worked with there and loved the feel of small town medicine. This experience combined with a fourth year rotation working with family doctors on Nantucket who had thriving practices with OB, pediatric and geriatric patients cemented my decision to become a family medicine doctor. It was through the rural health scholars and the opportunities this organization provided that I found my calling!

-Amanda, UMass Chan '08

Jake’s experience on Martha's Vineyard

“I did my clerkship on Martha's Vineyard with Dr. Ellen McMahon. She is a family medicine physician who has done a fellowship in geriatrics. As such, her patient population is predominantly elderly with multiple ongoing issues. She is also the medical director of the nursing home.

The Vineyard seems to be an atypical experience when compared to what my classmates have told me. On the Vineyard, the medical complex includes the primary care offices, the hospital itself, and a nursing home. My day was usually quite varied - in addition to spending time in the office seeing outpatients, I would accompany Dr. McMahon to the floor to see inpatients, and also to the nursing home. One day per week, I would spend time with another physician - I spent a day each in the ER, pediatric outpatient, orthopedic clinic, and in the OR with the anesthesiologist. Dr. McMahon was very flexible and accommodating of special interests. She spends tons of time teaching.

It's definitely different living on the island - I was there in the winter, so the nights were very quiet. The ferry can be a hassle. Internet access was difficult.

All in all, I had a great time. I would recommend the Vineyard to those looking for a laid-back experience in family medicine and the opportunity to see a great variety of medicine as it is practiced in a uniquely rural area.”

-Jake, UMass Chan '07

Nathan’s experience in Brewster

“This is an excellent site to do a family medicine clerkship. The typical day starts off at 8 am with rounds at Cape Cod hospital in Hyannis; if there are no patients in the hospital you may start off at Eagle Pond Nursing Facility. Dr. Herwig sees his own patients in the hospital and takes care of his patients and patients that do not have a PCP at the nursing home. These two activities provide great continuity of care as you will see the same 7-10 patients at the nursing home over the 6 weeks. Going to Cape Cod Hospital is also great, as many of the patients there will have been in the office recently or will come to the office once discharged. Dr. Herwig likes to use these patients as teaching cases to help you understand the larger picture of how an individual's health affects his/her overall quality of life. The teaching that you will receive from Dr. Herwig is invaluable; he will discuss anything from preventive care to ICD-9 billing. Discussing billing with him, while maybe not on the formal curriculum, is great because he forces you to think about the business side of medicine, something that I have not been exposed to elsewhere. 

Other strengths of this clerkship include the teaching that Dr. Herwig does on note writing. In no other location have I had someone read and critique my notes as thoroughly as Dr. Herwig. He has also implemented an electronic medical record in his office which has been interesting to work with. As Dr. Herwig works under the see-one-do-one philosophy, he quickly allowed me to be an active participant in office procedures.”

-Nathan, UMass Chan '08