Shannon Trammell is coming back to the community where she grew up for medical training, and she’s hoping she will be able to stay in Douglas County when she’s ready to begin a practice as a family practice physician assistant.

Trammell, 26, graduated from Umpqua Valley Christian High School in 2011 and is training to become a certified physician assistant. She’s doing her clinical rotations and the current rotation brought her back to Roseburg.

The rotations are six weeks and involve different specialties — including family medicine, which is the area in which she wants to specialize.

After she finishes her time in Roseburg at the Oregon Surgery Center on the CHI Mercy Hospital campus, she will have one more rotation at the Adventist Health Clinic in Vernonia, Oregon before graduating from Pacific University in August. The final step will be the national certifying examination. She’s hoping she can serve the community where she grew up, but physician assistants are in high demand all around the state and beyond.

“I’ve been kind of casting my net across Oregon because I’m a Primary Care Loan Forgiveness awardee through the Oregon Office of Rural Health, which requires that I work in a rural, underserved community, which Roseburg is,” Trammell said. “So I could definitely see myself staying in Roseburg.”

Trammell said she became passionate about the medical field after taking a mission trip to Honduras while she was in high school.

“We worked in a medical clinic there and I just thought it was really neat to work with underserved patients while I was there, and that kind of pushed me in the direction of health care,” Trammell said.

Trammell majored in biohealth sciences at Oregon State University, where there was a physician assistant option. She was accepted into Pacific University’s program in May of 2017, so she was able to stay in state for her schooling.

What really appealed to her was that Pacific offered international rotations that allowed her to travel, and it was the first year that students from Pacific University could go to Nepal. Trammell was able to work in a small hospital called Scheer Memorial Adventist Hospital in Banepa, in the shadows of Mount Everest.

The people, she said, are underserved with limited resources and it was a life-changing experience for her.

“So it was pretty cool being a trailblazer. It was really amazing,” Trammell said. “It was really kind of humbling to see how the doctors there worked with limited resources. There were no computers, not even internet in the hospital — they don’t have a lot of imaging.”

Patients that had life-threatening issues many times had to be sent to Kathmandu, about an hour away.

Trammell worked in the emergency department, internal medicine, pediatrics, and got to assist with surgeries that were performed by a group called Open Heart International that would come occasionally and do operations for no charge to the patients. That gave her some valuable training for dealing with the underserved population.

“Working in the hospital, it was pretty neat to be able to help those people,” Trammell said.

But being so far away in a strange land was a little tough on her parents.

“Obviously they were a little bit worried about me being completely on the other side of the world — like the farthest away you can possibly go in a third world country — but they were very supportive,” Trammell said.

“The communication over there was pretty spotty, so I was a little apprehensive,” said her mother, Donna Morhain. “But the nice thing was she had a couple of other students that went with her so she wasn’t completely alone, and that made me feel a little safer because that is a third world country.”

Morhain said she was not surprised when her daughter went into the medical field.

“She was very family oriented, and I think it attracts her because you get more of a community sense when you do family practice. It’s not just a specialty and you’re really getting the whole aspect of medicine wrapped up into one,” Morhain said.

As a physician assistant, Trammell will be able to do most things that a medical doctor can do, she just has to have a supervising physician. Family practice has always appealed to her.

“You get to follow patients through the lifespan. There’s continuity of care and you can check up on them and see how they’re doing, and you build relationships and I’m also pretty passionate about preventative medicine,” Trammell said.

Trammell was heavily involved in the community before she left for college with 4-H, the Umpqua Community College Theater, Umpqua Valley Youth Orchestra and the UCC Chamber Orchestra.

Music has been a big part of her life and when she came back to Roseburg, she joined a group called the Rovers and Dragons, a Celtic band, where she plays the fiddle.

“I really enjoy music but I don’t have quite as much time now because of my career,” Trammell said. “I really enjoy playing with them, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s just uplifting and makes you want to dance.”

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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