MarnaSchwartzIn most places, the era of the traveling doctor with a black bag is long over. But in Alaska, with its many isolated communities with limited services, there’s an opportunity to have one of the most scenic jobs in medicine. The Juneau Empire recently interviewed Dr. Marna Schwartz ’87 about her work as a traveling pediatrician in Southeastern Alaska:

Pediatrics was a natural fit for Schwartz, even if it took her a while to get there. She said she always wanted to be a doctor as a kid, but in college she didn’t fit in with the pre-med crowd. Not long after graduating from Williams College in Massachusetts, Schwartz wound up in Alaska — another case of a never-ending “vacation.” She didn’t hop on that ferry heading to Washington, choosing to make Juneau home instead of returning to the Lower 48.

How often do we hear the concern that Williams too readily channels promising minds to medicine, to law, and to finance? Here’s an Eph who can serve as a counter-example!

Though she’s available to see all patients, 0-18, Schwartz has some specialized training in working with children experiencing autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

“I especially enjoy working with kids who are a little bit more challenging,” she said. “To pull all these pieces together, to figure out how to understand that child and figure out if there’s a problem, what’s causing it and how to approach treating it.”

Her work in FASD was motivated by her experiences in Alaska.

She’s lived in Juneau and Anchorage and has traveled all across the state, and said she “always had awareness of the impact alcohol had on all communities in Alaska. … It’s something I needed to be able to do when seeing kids here.”

Of course, Dr. Schwartz was in Williamstown before the great temperance movement of the last couple of decades had hit with full force, contributing to unsupervised binge drinking and other ills. Future Eph doctors today may develop an awareness of the impact of alcohol without stepping so far from their dorms.

SEARHC sends providers to Angoon, Craig, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Kake, Kasaan, Klawock, Klukwan, Pelican, Petersburg, Skagway, Thorne Bay, Wrangell and Yakutat.

Wow. Maybe a great internship/shadowing opportunity for some (deep-pocketed) pre-med interested in the outdoors or winter sports…

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