Hiking from village to village to deliver toothbrushes to children and several other adventures helped Scott Furer, M.D., figure out what he wanted to do with his future medical career.
And it didn’t involve the traditional colorful wooden sign outside a beautifully landscaped practice.
For Furer, the glory of a medical career comes in the form of visiting villages and even Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayas while serving as the supervisory medical faculty. Or providing much needed medical services to sick, dehydrated and disease-prone children in the Dominican Republic.
He carefully selected a pediatric residency that would speak to his rather unique calling to serve children in desperate need of health care both globally and in the United States. The distinctive, somewhat customized, residency at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital allowed him to indulge his interests of travel medicine and endeavor to become the lesser known “locum tenens”—a physician who chooses temporary assignments in rural or underserved areas.
“What I really appreciated about the Johns Hopkins All Children’s residency was that I was able to set my own curriculum to focus on the areas I want to specialize in,” says Furer, 30, who graduated from University of Central Florida College of Medicine. “I was able to ask all of the questions that would help me in scenarios I might find myself in—say treating someone in their home, or with no other expert around. I had mentors who focused on global health, who helped me navigate a career that best suits my talents and interests.” He also appreciated rotating through virtually every department, getting a chance to sample it all.
Now that he has graduated this summer, Furer has several assignments from which to choose, including a border town between the United States and Mexico. For that trip, he is currently learning Spanish. “I am also learning about the cultures. I am willing to go wherever I am needed,” he explains. Furer works with groups like Making a Difference Foundation and Global Medical Staffing to help plan his trips.
“I am so proud of his choice to seek out some of these underserved populations,” says a beaming Rachel Dawkins, M.D., one of Furer’s mentors while at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. “It fits right in with the All Children’s mission, and it fits in with his love of adventure. Dr. Furer has never met a stranger, so I am not surprised that he has decided to take on this non-traditional career path.”
In addition to serving an international practice, Furer plans to seek medical licenses in New Mexico, North Carolina and Iowa, states with greater community medical needs. He will consider Florida his home base between posts as his family is spread out along the east coast from St. Augustine to Miami.
“Dr. Furer recognizes that there is no single way to practice medicine—a concept that matured during his multiple international clinical experiences,” adds John Morrison, M.D., Ph.D., who is a pediatric hospitalist. “These experiences highlight the mission of our residency program: to provide an individualized curriculum that aligns our innovative medical training with each resident’s career goals. Dr. Furer will excel as a clinician who frequently travels to multiple settings. Perhaps more importantly, by him doing so, Dr. Furer will be able to share his humanistic and compassionate approach to care with more children and families than possible with more traditional practices.”
Furer worked closely with and received mentoring from Morrison, who was in the first graduating class of the innovative Johns Hopkins All Children’s residency.
“I plan to stay in touch with my fellow residents,” Furer says. “I learned so much from them about who I want to be. This was definitely the right place for me.”
Ironically, Furer considers his choice as somewhat selfish, as he longs to travel and see the world, but the odds are, his future patients, wherever they are, will be extremely thankful for his decision.
From the Himalayan Mountains to the dry desert sands of the Mexican border to the Caribbean’s tropical shores, this newly minted physician is ready to help children in need wherever he finds them.
“We’ll see where the wind takes me.”