Residents - Class of 2023

Missoula

Ben Merbler

Ben MerblerKansas City University COM

I was raised in the beautiful state of Michigan, where I spent the majority of my childhood playing sports outside, exploring local forests, and enjoying our incredible lakes with my family each summer. I went on to play football and study kinesiology at Saginaw Valley State University, where my classes and professors helped to foster an interest in preventative medicine, particularly at the physician level through primary care. I traded the great lakes for the great plains as I moved to Missouri to attend medical school at KCU. During my time in school, I developed interests in international medicine, addiction medicine, and wilderness medicine, all of which further cemented my desire to pursue a career in primary care. I fell in love with Western Montana during a week long backpacking trip after my first year of medical school, and I’ve felt a strong pull to this region since then. I’m incredibly fortunate and grateful to have matched at FMRWM and can’t wait to begin my training in full-spectrum family medicine in this new home, surrounded by unrivaled beauty.

Outside of medicine I can be found backpacking, camping, watching movies, cruising through Stephen King novels, collecting vinyl records and, much to the chagrin of my girlfriend Paige, breaking out into various musical numbers. I’m eager to pursue all of these hobbies and especially excited to cultivate new ones over the next three years in Missoula.

Paige O'Connor

Paige O'ConnorKansas City University COM

Born and raised in sunny Southern California, I spent the lion’s share of my adolescence embracing the outdoors through athletics, hiking, and of course bumming around the beach. After graduating from high school, I decided to put the crowded 405 in my rearview and head to Colorado College to study biology and begin my pursuit of a future in medicine. At CC, I developed a love for international travel while living in both Spain and Brazil and upon graduation, took my talents Down Under to work as lab technician in Melbourne, Australia for a year. Soon after, I moved to Missouri to attend medical school at Kansas City University. I quickly enrolled in the Global Health Track and traveled to Guatemala twice on medical mission trips. These experiences fostered a strong desire to engage in international medicine and work closely with Spanish speaking populations in the future. I’m honored to have the opportunity to train at FMRWM, and to call the wild and beautiful state of Montana home for the first time.

In my spare time you’ll find me poking through the shelves at local bookstores with my boyfriend Ben, reading true crime novels, listening to stand-up comedy, doodling, devouring movies and, never too far removed from my L.A. roots, binge-watching reality TV shows. Most importantly, I can’t wait to embrace the endless outdoor opportunities that Western Montana has to offer.

Jacqueline Ordemann

Jacqueline OrdemannTufts University - Maine

I was born in Seattle but moved when I was 5 years old to a small village in England called Tylers Green. My family moved to Groton, Massachusetts when I was 10 and I spent the majority of my childhood there. Through lots of family camping, canoeing, and hiking trips, I fell in love with the state of Maine and received my BS in Biochemistry from Bates College. While I was there I fell in love with rural community medicine and public health through my study abroad experience in Thailand and senior thesis research on lead poisoning prevention. After college I worked as an apprentice on Goranson Farm, a small family owned organic farm in rural Maine where my job included working at farmers markets, picking and packing vegetables, and taking care of the chickens and cows. I received my medical degree from the Maine Track Program at Tufts University which allowed me to complete my medical school rotations in rural communities throughout Maine and spurred my interest in full spectrum rural family medicine. From my time on the farm and in rural communities I also developed a passion for food access and I followed this passion as I completed my course work towards my MPH.

During my free time I enjoy knitting and spinning yarn, baking, singing, and being outdoors – particularly hiking, cross country skiing, and canoeing. I am thrilled to be joining FMRWM and I am so excited to explore Western Montana!

Stephen Reale

Stephen RealeTufts University

I grew up just north of Boston, in Melrose, Massachusetts, where a high school anatomy class solidified my interest in pursuing medicine. I then attended Dickinson College in rural Pennsylvania for undergrad where I majored in neuroscience and music composition, and whether teaching music or tutoring writing, what I truly enjoyed was helping people to improve. After working as an emergency department scribe in Pennsylvania, I returned to Boston to attend Tufts University School of Medicine. While there, I fell in love with everything from obstetrics to pediatrics to surgery, and I couldn’t imagine a career without all of it. It was rumored (in Boston) that this kind of “full-spectrum family medicine” no longer existed, so I took a road trip with my wife, a large animal veterinarian, and found it, alive and well, in the western US. Spending my last year of medical school in Maine, I immediately fell in love with the mountains and forests of western Montana, as well as the friendly, welcoming people of Missoula, and I cannot imagine a better place to train as a family physician. My goal is to fill my medical toolbox with as many tools as possible to help every patient achieve their own personal definition of wellness.

In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and anything else outdoors, as well as writing and performing music, reading, cooking, and spending time adventuring with my cat and my brilliant and beautiful wife while planning our rural all-are-welcome human/animal practice.

Jonathan Rhea

Jonathan RheaDes Moines University COM

I grew up in a Houma, Louisiana, where I spent most of my childhood fishing on the bayous and in the gulf. I worked my way up through Louisiana restaurant kitchens, but missing the outdoors, I migrated to Asheville, North Carolina. There I worked as an outdoor educator, guiding backpacking and rock climbing trips. I longed for bigger mountains so took a job working on a cattle ranch in Aspen, Colorado. Eventually I ended up in Mammoth Lakes, California where I worked as a professional ski patroller for ten years. This experience piqued my interest in medicine, and I enrolled at the University of Nevada, Reno, majoring in chemistry. I completed medical school in Iowa at Des Moines University. Since I first left Mammoth, I knew I wanted to get back to a mountain town, and having a strong interest in rural family medicine, FMRWM seemed like a great fit. In my free time I enjoy mountain biking, backcountry skiing, and mountaineering. I plan to practice full spectrum family medicine in a small town in the mountain west.

I am excited to be moving to Missoula with my wife, stepson, and yellow lab, where I can introduce them to the joys of mountain living.

Rachael Schmidt

Rachael SchmidtUniversity of Nebraska

While I have lived all over the United States, I have spent the most of my time in Omaha, Nebraska. At the University of Nebraska – Lincoln I received my bachelor’s degree in biology. Shortly afterwards, I was accepted to the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) for medical school. It is during my time at UNMC that I discovered my passion for full-spectrum family medicine and deepened my interests in issues of public health, behavioral health, reproductive justice, and physician wellness.

After a camping trip to Glacier National Park, my husband and I have been waiting for the opportunity to move to such a beautiful area of the country. I am thrilled I can continue my learning with the amazing faculty and residents at FMRWM here in Missoula. During my free time I enjoy climbing, camping, traveling, photography, and hiking -- alongside my husband, David, and our two dogs, Henry and Louis.

Melanie Scott

Melanie ScottPacific NW University COM

I was born and raised in Spokane Washington where I spent my summers on lake Coeur d’Alene. I attended Washington State University where I studied Neuroscience and Psychology. After college I spent time in a Neuropsychology lab working with older adults with memory impairment as well as in the ER in the Seattle Washington area. These experiences confirmed my love of medicine and helped me become the person I am today. I attended Pacific Northwest University in Yakima Washington where I developed my passion for preventative medicine, osteopathic manipulation, women’s health, and full-scope primary care. In my free time I enjoy hiking, yoga, baking, and watching movies.

I look forward to moving to Missoula and exploring all the outdoor activities that Montana has to offer with my husband Parker and our dog Moana.

Kalispell

Kati Lucas

Kati LucasPacific NW University COM

I grew up in Richland, Washington where I spent most of my time climbing trees and playing with my brothers and sister. College soccer took me to Boise, Idaho (Go Broncos!) where I also earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and worked my first healthcare related job as a scribe in both urban and rural Emergency Departments. This experience, along with abroad medical expeditions and local volunteering, helped grow my passion for people and medicine. I then attended medical school at PNWU and chose to pursue family medicine because preventative healthcare and building relationships with patients are most important to me. Outside of work, I love spending time with my family and friends, playing sports, running, reading, and adventuring outdoors with my boyfriend, Scott. The only thing missing in our lives right now is a dog!

Taylor Simmons

Taylor SimmonsUniversity of Washington - Idaho WWAMI

I grew up in the small town of Middleton, Idaho, where time passed reasoning my way through books, pursuing state championships on the basketball court, and exploring the world from the back of a horse. I didn’t stray too far from home to continue my education and basketball career at Northwest Nazarene University. I majored in biology and realized the value of teamwork and sacrifice required from many to help a student athlete pursue her dreams. Blessed to be an Idaho resident, I entered medical school at the University of Washington via the WWAMI program. Through working at free clinics in the Palouse region, participating in a rural underserved opportunities program in Cottonwood, Idaho, and appreciating all the parallels of the world of CrossFit to a career in full-spectrum family medicine, I knew early on in my medical training I wanted to care for those in sickness and health, in treatment and prevention. I’m passionate about family medicine for its purpose to serve the community and all people, but I have specific interests in reproductive health, obstetrics, underserved populations, and nutrition/lifestyle. In my free time, you’ll find me enjoying the outdoors in my hiking or ski boots, working out at the local CrossFit box, pretending I know what I’m doing in the kitchen, or snuggling my miniature dachshund, Tucker.

Barbara Steward

Barb StewardPacific NW University COM

I had the pleasure to grow up in the beautiful northwestern Montana town of Plains. I was able to stay close to and return home to coach cross-country and javelin, volunteer and work in my family-owned natural stone quarry while I attended The University of Montana-Missoula. I graduated with a degree in Exercise Science in Health and Human Performance and during this time I fortified my love for the human body and longed for a continued connection with all whom I encountered. I understand the struggles and difficulties but also the pleasures of living in a rural area. I knew I could best give back to my community by serving them as a family physician.

I appreciate the holistic approach of osteopathic medicine and chose to attend medical school at Pacific Northwest University in Yakima, Washington. I was able to complete my clinical years in Kalispell, MT and am excited to return there for completion of my residency training. I am elated to be training at the FMRWM where I will continue to explore my passion for broad spectrum, rural care with an emphasis in OMM. I couldn’t imagine a better-suited program to help cultivate the compassionate and knowledgeable physician I aspire to be.

I am grateful to be close to home as in my free time I adore spending time with my husband, dad, family and 4 cats. I enjoy working out, eating at new restaurants, exploring the outdoors, fishing, hunting and indulging in board games or a sappy novel.