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Settling into rural family medicine care


The two resident physicians who joined Bothwell Regional Health Center last July are entering the second year of their three-year training through the Bothwell-University of Missouri Rural Family Medicine Residency. In the past year, Dr. Brittany Pendergraft and Dr. Levi Harris have had the opportunity to expand their education in a rural medicine setting while also providing care for patients alongside mentoring physicians in the Bothwell health system.

“The first year of residency was challenging but fulfilling and I’m looking forward to year two,” Harris said. “It was an awesome learning experience, and I’ve really enjoyed working in clinic and developing relationships with the staff, attendings and the community.”

Both physicians have a passion for rural medicine, and Bothwell has provided them with unique experiences in caring for a variety of patients and conditions.

“I have had many experiences throughout the year treating complex medical conditions and seeing a wide variety of pathology,” Pendergraft said. “Not all of the top resources are available in a rural setting, so you really have to think on your feet and be aware of all possible diagnoses.”

In the second year of their residency, Harris and Pendergraft are in Sedalia full-time and accepting patients of their own at Bothwell Family Medicine Associates.

“On top of seeing patients in the clinics, we will also care for established patients who are in the hospital and have time for other rotations, including emergency medicine, cardiology, pediatrics, OB/GYN and elective rotations,” Harris said. “This allows us to be well-rounded physicians, which is even more important when practicing in a rural community. We will see patients mostly on our own, but still have oversight for procedures and always have an experienced physician available for each visit.”

Residency faculty at various Bothwell clinics have greatly impacted the education and success of Harris and Pendergraft and both feel grateful to learn from and practice medicine alongside them.

“It takes a whole team to care for patients,” Pendergraft said. “I would not be able to help my patients as much as I have without the help I’ve received from attendings, nurses and office staff.”

Harris and Pendergraft now reside in Sedalia and have enjoyed the rural amenities. Pendergraft appreciates the short drive to the country for all of her favorite activities, including hunting, fishing and kayaking. Harris is recently married and looks forward to checking out local restaurants, going to the Heckart Community Center, visiting the farmers’ market and attending the upcoming Missouri State Fair.

The residency program has been an important addition to Bothwell and has opened the door for Bothwell physicians to teach and mentor the younger generation of health care professionals.

“There are some things that are better learned while doing them, and I believe practicing in a rural community is best learned like that,” Harris said. “Caring for patients who may have to travel a long distance to see us adds an additional layer of complexity, but the faculty and other attendings we work with have been great mentors, and I appreciate their insight and experience.”

To make an appointment to see either Harris or Pendergraft, call Bothwell Family Medicine Associates at 660-827-2883.