Medical School Loan Repayment & Making a Real Impact: Dr. Ellen Piernot’s NHSC Story

Primary care is incredibly rewarding because you see not just how something affects
one person, but how it affects their whole family
and their community. My name is Ellen Piernot
and I am a family practice practitioner. And I am currently
serving as the medical director for primary care and health
information with Presbyterian Medical Services in New Mexico.
There�s a good mix of Native American, Hispanic and White-Anglo throughout the state.
There’s a lot of diversity, scenery, and people. Grants is a small community. It�s about
10,000 very, very nice people. National Health Service Corps fit
in very well with that because I knew I wanted to be in
a place that was less served. I didn�t want to be in the middle
of an urban area – that wasn�t how I envisioned family practice. You definitely take care
of the whole person out here. You are called upon
to help people find the right path emotionally as well as
physically. You�re definitely play a significant role
in the community which I think is one of the advantages
of being in a smaller community – everyone knows you, and trusts you
and will tell you things they may not tell their
best friends. Personally I am never satisfied with, �just good enough,� and believe
that our patients, even though they may not have a lot of financial
resources, still deserve the same level of care as everyone
else. When I came out here with National Health Service Corps, I thought I
would be here for two years and then go on and do the rest of
my life. It�s seven years later. National Health
Service Corps brought me to a place that I may not have even considered.
But, the strength of the organization, the strength of the community
and the love of the patients kept me here. And
I have been able to progress in ways that I didn�t anticipate. If you
had asked me in medical school or residency if I thought I would be
in clinical informatics in a medical director role, I
don�t think I would have said “yes.” But I found that was an niche that
needed to be filled and I was good at it. I think if you�re considering primary
care than National Health Service Corps is a great option. If you really think about
it a commitment of two years is such a small price
to pay for having all of your loans removed or having them help
pay for school. You work in places you may not have
ever imagined you�d live, but it doesn�t mean that there isn�t
a multitude of options that can extend from that primary location. I definitely feel that
the National Health Service Corps has set me up to win
professionally. From there the organization I work with,
Presbyterian Medical Services, has given me options to explore
professionally in ways that I didn�t necessarily envision. And the weather�s beautiful. [Music]

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