Meet a new Assistant Clinical Dean in Montana

Here’s your chance to get to know Serena Brewer, M.D.:

New role: A second Montana WWAMI Assistant Clinical Dean, joining Jay Erickson, M.D.

Why did you want to be an assistant clinical dean? Over the last decade, I’ve developed passion creating successful teaching environments for both students and preceptors. I want to expand on that in this role by supporting existing teaching sites and developing new sites. Additionally, Montana faces a critical physician workforce shortage and with my Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) experience, I feel I can contribute relevant and effective ideas for getting WWAMI graduates back to Montana.

What are you most looking forward to in this role?

Meeting all the amazing faculty who dedicate their time to teaching. WWAMI has an amazing resource in Montana preceptors. Students get the chance to work side by side with some of the best providers in their field. And I’m excited to meet these folks.

Can you briefly describe the path that led you to the role of assistant clinical dean? In one form or another, I’ve been teaching since I arrived in Montana 16 years ago. I was lucky to connect fairly early on with WWAMI in hosting Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (RUOP) students. That grew to family medicine clerkship and then  (Targeted Rural and Underserved Track (TRUST) and / WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE). I was also fortunate to create rotation opportunities for family medicine and pediatric residents which ultimately contributed to the recruitment of several physicians. And for the last few years I’ve been the medical director for an FQHC. So I know the work that goes into training, recruiting and retaining physicians in Montana.

What inspires you about medical education and teaching the next generation of students? There is so much changing in the world of medicine right now! I want to make sure our students (and faculty) are at the table in shaping the course of medicine — rather than watching an outside force dictating this path.

To be at the table means having a strong foundation in medical knowledge and curiosity to envision a new way forward. I’m also passionate about creating longevity in medicine: Helping students create thriving careers from the very beginning so that burnout isn’t ever an issue (or certainly much less and much later in a career).  There’s a lot of the business of medicine that we don’t teach and most of learned haphazardly along the way – I’d like to see us begin to teach this.

How and why did you settle in Montana? I was a Health Service Corps scholar and had a commitment requirement to fulfill. Of the clinics interviewing during my hiring cycle, I thought Butte had the most to offer both as a clinic and a community. I was lucky to fall in love with my community and when my commitment was up, I couldn’t imagine practicing anywhere else.

What do you enjoy doing during your time off? I’m a foodie which goes hand in hand with travel and exploring new place. I’m also pretty strongly connected to my family back home in Northern California, so I go home whenever I can.

What’s one thing that a lot of your professional colleagues do not know about you? I am an introvert! It’s totally opposite of what most people assume with my leadership roles but at my core I am a pretty shy person.