About Me

about meHey! I’m Shana, a Family Medicine physician, starting my first job as a doctor working in Nome, Alaska!

Why Alaska? I think it draws me because it is in many ways similar to Papua New Guinea, also known as “the last frontier”—a land of rugged mountains, uncrossable rivers, bush pilots and villages—where I was born and spent the first 18 years of my life. There my parents worked in a remote village with the local people, and my mom set up a small clinic providing basic medical care. After high school, life brought me to far-away places, (like America :)) and many other amazing, beautiful countries, where there was always a need for healthcare. Growing up with very little access to medical care instilled in me the desire to learn medicine and serve in a place that is underserved. Now that I am finished with my formal training, it’s time to wake up in the kind of place that has stayed in my dreams—a place of wildly beautiful land, many places only reachable by airplane (or days of walking over inhospitable terrain), to serve villages that otherwise would have no access to healthcare. This time it’s in Alaska! I am super thrilled to get to tell the stories from the next years!

Also, outside of medicine, I  love art~painting, drawing, mosaic, photography (I plan to put a lot of pictures on this blog). I like to read, and I dabble in music (I play a few cowboy chords on guitar and haltering piano). I also love to be outside–camping, hiking, mountain climbing, biking, snow boarding…pretty much everything! I like anything in the water–swimming, scuba diving, canoeing, capsizing. I love traveling. Adventures are always fun, and “it’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.” (Yvon Chouinard, 180 degrees South). If you have questions, or want to hear more about any particular thing, let me know!

Graduating from med school!

Graduating from med school!


56 thoughts on “About Me

  1. So excited for you, my dear! I’m sad we didn’t get more time together before we parted, but I’ll always treasure the time we did have. Can’t wait to read and see more!

    • Thank you, my dear! I agree~I wish we could have spent more time together. I miss you heaps and hope to get to see you again! How’s Healer’s Art going? You and Brett *have* to come visit!!!!! xxxx

  2. Shana, I Love your blog! So great to hear how you are and what you are up to. What an adventure. I have to say I am a bit jealous. Alaska has always fascinated me. Looking forward to reading about all your adventures.
    Love you

    • Thanks Coralee! It’s so great (and wild) to be here! I agree~Alaska is fascinating and soooo beautiful! You and the fam should definitely come visit…from Africa, ummm that’s pretty exotic. 😉 That’s where I actually thought I would be living, but I can actually pay my medical school loans off here. 🙂 What’s most amazing to me is all this technology~ how easy it is to stay connected and to share how our lives are now. 🙂 Remember in PNG when it was impossible to make a phone call to the US, and we would look forward to mail, that was usually weeks to months in coming. 🙂
      Anyway, it’s great to hear from you! And always fun to see your pics and hear your stories. we have to get together again sometime soon! Lots of love to you and your crew!

  3. Hey Shana!
    Glad to see you found your new home for a while! Alaska is a beautiful and full of life! I am so happy that you get to experience all the adventures that the last frontier can offer you! It is a special place that will leave you changed forever. The people, culture and history are wonderful! I’m back in Crested Butte for the winter but hopefully i will make it back up to Haines for the summer and we will share tales of our adventures. SO happy for you!! Have fun!

    • Your comment made me smile. 🙂 Thanks for the messages, and YES! I can’t wait to share tales of our adventures. 🙂 Much love!

  4. I just stumbled upon your blog and wow! I aspire to be a wilderness doc but I’m still a few years away and the things you do give goosebumps. What’s the best way to reach out to you if I have any specific questions?

  5. Hey beautiful cousin, can you email me at janelle.cater@gmail.com so I be in touch with you, I know you’re not on facebook so not sure how to get in touch, but have some questions to ask you and would LOVE to hear from you!

    Love you!

  6. PA Riley’s husband here ( met you at the hospital Xmas party) saw the blog on a nome announce google search while getting sidetracked on the interwebs! Cool blog! Good to see some snow storm pictures. I’ve been outta town for a week and Riley was telling me how bad the snow storm was. She said all here vehicles were not running right. Well – now I know why! Cheers

  7. Doc looks like you are living the life. Compartmentalize and be sure to get your rest. Burning out the Doc does no one any good. Best. Capt Tom …former paramedic/hyperbaric med tech

      • Shana, my work as a paramedic was primarily in Michigan North of Detroit, some in Flint, worked in Gulf of Mexico post Katrina/Rita as a medical person in charge akin to a Physician Extender in a 3 bay ships hospital for crew, divers and oil field worker, a year in a hospital ER and a year in 24/7 urgent care as ACLS medic / Xray …jack of whatever needed to be done… you know mopping floors, stocking, pt registration, vitals, labs, splints, casts, telling jokes, waking the Doc …sign here sir or mam…Docs joked back saying they coulda just stayed home…about 8 years volunteer about 10 years paid… moved into hyperbarics as an out growth of being Diver Medic …never treated a diver in my chambers but ran over 15000 chronic non healing wound HBOT tx and tx for stroke pts and autistic kids for about 8 years. Wound care per Docs orders. Had an AK license (actually used my skills in AK once while on extended vacation there) but it didn’t work out (family)…had an AK Teachers license too. We were told our herd of 4 were the 1st to travel the length of the Haul Road. Maybe true….Enjoy.

        • Woooowwwww!!! You’ve had quite the experiences! (Sorry I never saw this till now–once someone leaves a comment, the blog doesn’t notify me when they comment again. :?) Ummm, are you looking for a job? 😉

  8. Hi Shana,

    Thanks again for hosting Beat and me while we were in Nome. I had such a wonderful time getting to know you, and Beat is getting quite attached to the place. Tonight we spent some time browsing Nome (and other Alaska) properties listed for sale and played the fun “what if” game. Maybe someday. I hope to see you again, and in the meantime look forward to reading about your Nome adventures on your blog!
    Jill Homer recently posted…Following the White Mountains 100My Profile

    • Thanks Jill! It was such a pleasure to get to know you and Beat! You two are inspiring, and I think you would love and bring so much great energy to Nome! 🙂 Spring has been amazing! Now there is almost 18 hours of day light, and we still have 4 to come! 🙂 Everyone is feeling the buzz. 😉

  9. This is a great blog. I passed the interview and am now one giant step closer to getting up there. At least I know the medical care up there is excellent! 🙂

  10. Hey Shana,
    I’m a currently doing research on rural/wilderness medicine. I am currently working with doctors in Louisiana and Idaho. I was wondering if you could email me back, as I have a few questions about your job in Alaska?

    • Oh my goodness! Brad, I just saw this. I’m so sorry! I don’t know how to email you from here (?), but if you want to email me, you can reach me at pacificmeri AT gmail. 🙂 I would be happy to answer any questions! Take care!

  11. Hi Shana, my name is Marielena I recently have a job offer to go to Nome , AK I’m very excited about it, it’s like a dream. I’m a Certified Medical Assistant and also Surgical Tech and an Agency is offer me travel jobs and this will be my 1st assigment. My single concern is my son of 7 yrs/old I want he to come with me and enjoy this aventure. I been doing my homework researching all over internet and you expirience are the most real and great. Thank you for take the time to do it and help other that you dont even know. I hope a will have the opportunity to know you in person if finally I get this job.
    Your help was priceless. Thank

  12. Hi Shana!
    I am an artist from New Mexico who is working on a project with the Anchorage Museum about the White Alice sites and circumpolar communication. My dad worked up there during my childhood, and I am on a journey to retrace some of his steps. I will be visiting Nome from July 2 -5 this year, and am hoping you might be able to help connect me with people who would be interested in helping an artist.

    I primarily am seeking housing, and would happily sleep on a couch or the floor. I would love your advice or any introductions that you might be able to offer. I am trying to make this long distance travel happen on a minimal budget, and any way that personal and creative connections would help me save money would be a blessing.

    After visiting Nome, I will be continuing up to Wales. I really enjoyed your blog posts about Wales. It is amazing how little information about this incredible village is available online! Do you stall have any contacts up there? Would you be available to talk on the phone about your trip there? I am not sure if it is absurd to plan a trip up there by myself, and would love to hear your opinion.

    I look forward to hearing from you! You can check out my art at http://www.ninaelder.com , and you can see my work with the Anchorage Museum on their Polar Lab website.

  13. Thanks so much for your blog about Nome. I’m in final negotiations for a position there and of everything I’ve read and watched I feel your experience, stories and advice has not only made me more excited about this new adventure but what to truly expect of life in Nome.

  14. Hey Shana, I think it’s cool that you’ve been to Little Diomede. I’d love to get out there just to say I’d been. I spent my first year in Alaska up in Kotzebue, so I know a little bit about isolation. But I think you win first prize! 🙂 Where are you now? Nome? …Joe

    • Hi Joe,
      Sorry I didn’t reply to some of these comments from August. I was a little busy during that time! Yep! I’m in Nome! And yeah, I agree that Diomede kind of feels like it’s on the edge of the world. 🙂 What brought you to Kotz?

  15. Hi there! I really love your blog! Thank you for sharing. 🙂
    I am a relatively new pharmacist and already I have been searching for a job that feeds my soul a bit more than retail. I would very much like to be of service to a population that needs me. Can I ask you a few questions about your interactions with the pharmacists you work with? Do they seem fulfilled in their work? Do they get to accompany you on your visits to the outlying villages? How much patient interaction do they get?
    Thanks for your time Shana! (And congrats on your wedding!!!)

    • Hi Molly! Thanks for your writing! Sounds like you would be a great fit for NSHC! Yes to all your questions. From what I understand they rotate through different areas –i.e. Inpatient, village, pharmacy-based and hopefully soon outpatient, and they do a lot of awesome work for this community! They do village trips for pharmacy specific things and on the last village trip we had a kind of interdisciplinary team that went out together! We had a great time! I hope you get the chance to come up here.

  16. Hi Shana! I happened to find your blog thanks to the Iditarod believe it or not! I was looking up information on Nome for my students since we are following it. What a wonderful blog and experience! Many years ago when I was looking for a teaching job I considered a job in Nome but ended up in Seattle. Sometime I regret that decision. My fiance, who’s from Seattle lived for years in Hoonah, AK which is on Chichagof Island near Juneau. He loved the people, the cultures..Everything! He misses it very much.I hope to visit Alaska one day and do the Iditarod Teacher Summer Camp in Wasilla! I’d love to visit Nome too. We now live in Rapid City, South Dakota which is an adventure in itself. We love it. Thank you for sharing all of your experiences in Nome!

    • Thank you, Brenda! Haha! Wow! What a cool story! You are always welcome to Nome! And… there is a always a need for good teachers here. 😉

  17. Hi Shana!
    I will be completing my doctorate in psychology on 8/12 and moving for my first job as a doctor in Nome starting 9/1. I will be a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Rural Psychology at Norton Sound. I love your blog! If you have any advice on finding a place to live, please feel free to share. I have contacted every place and put myself on the wait list for all that would allow me from VisitNomeAlaska.com and I’m open to all ideas. I also have 2 cats I’m bringing. Keep blogging it really helps remind me why I fell in love with Nome in September and why I am coming to make Nome my new home.

      • Good morning Shana!
        Just wanted to let you know I rented a house in Nome!!!! I’m so excited. It’s furnished and has a washer/dryer!!! I haven’t had a washer/dryer in years!!! I’m close to the sea and so excited to know move date is getting closer. I will be there mid-August. Would love to meet you! You have been so helpful through your blog and excitement about Nome. People from “outside” just don’t understand why I’m moving and some think I’m crazy but I fell in love when I was there last September and it is calling to me. Looking forward to being in Nome soon. Wishing you a wonderful, blessed day/weekend! Thanks again for all you do to inspire by sharing your stories!!!

  18. Probably old enough to be your dad – but what can I say – I’m smitten anyway. Let me know if this ‘Dave’ character does not work out 😉

    In the meantime – hearing about Nome from someone real who is there is fantastic (Vs. ‘Bering Sea Gold… they’re there too, but it’s a reality show after all…) . So why am I interested in Nome? I had some high school friends who went into the military (not even sure which branch) wind up in Nome. This was the ’80s – but they had a love-hate with the area and it always fascinated me. So glad I found your blog!

    • Haha! That’s hilarious. 🙂 Yeah, I was a little nervous to move here, but I must admit, I was completely taken by surprise at how beautiful and full-of-life it is! I’m sure it was different in the military in the 80s, though! Nome is cool. There’s always summer time gold mining or exploring…or the Iditarod! 🙂

  19. Just read your posts. I’m a photographer living in northern California. I’m writing my second novel, and I’ve chosen Little Diomede to be the center of the story (because it’s 2 miles from Russia). The book is an international thriller with connections to the meteorite that fell in Russia in 2013. I’ve been trying to learn as much about the people on the island as possible. My main character is a woman doctor that travels from Anchorage to the island twice a year, so when I ran across your posts I just thought I would say hello. Hello!
    All the best… Michael

  20. Hi Shana! Hope your New Year is going well! I’m applying for a grant to attend the Iditarod Teacher Summer camp in Wasilla and Anchorage this June and hopefully I’ll get selected for it! I’m debating whether or not to add a trip to Nome as part of it. It would be great to see the end of the Iditarod Trail. My fiance told me I should focus just on the Anchorage area because there’s not much to see in Nome. (He lived in Alaska for years) He also said weather can be be tricky flying into there, even in June. Would you recommend Nome as a place to visit? I’d probably stay a day or two before the start of the camp. I’ve never been to Alaska so I’d love to see as much of it as I can! Would love your opinion!

    • Hi Brenda! How fun is that! I love Nome and I think it’s a great place to visit. There’s a lot of mining history and culture and it’s cool to see the tundra and the Bering Sea! There is a lot more to see around the Anchorage area, but I think an experience in Nome would give you a glimpse of the more rural, “bush” Alaska. Alaska airlines flies up here twice a day, so usually flights aren’t hard to get, and they can fly in a lot more crummy weather. That said, from time to time, ppl do get stuck here. Which is part of the adventure I guess. 😜 if you do make it up, the best part of nome is getting out on the roads to Salmon Lake, Pilgrim Hot Springs, the road towards Council/Safety Sound and it out to Teller, one of the villages near Nome. Good luck! I hope you get the grant!

  21. Hey Shana,

    I looked up your blog – it’s wonderful 🙂 keep it up!
    It was fun meeting you guys and being back in Alaska. Nome is beautiful! Be sure to tell your sister thanks again for letting a stranger crash her place!

    If you ever have any photography questions, don’t hesitate to hit me up.

    Take care!


    P.s. – if you have Instagram, find me @noahforbes or @noahforbesphoto

    • Hi Noah! Thanks for the message! It was fun to meet you as well and glad you got to see the first mushers come in!!! 😊 will do! You are welcome back any time! The summer here is even better!!! Yeah I could use some lessons in taking pictures of the northern lights! 😆
      I’ll for sure look you up!

  22. Shana!

    Hello my name is Sara and this is exactly what I want to do when I graduate medical school! I was wondering if there are any remote doctors out there serving rural areas and I am glad i found you. i look forward to reading about your adventures! And you already answered my 1st question.. it’s your first job! Awesome!!

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