Second year medical student, OHSU School of Medicine
In 2015 Foulke was named one of eight Swindells Family Scholars, one of OHSU’s most prestigious M.D. scholarship awards. Before starting medical school, Foulke served as a medical sergeant with the U.S. Army Special Forces. Foulke plans to practice medicine in a rural community after he’s completed his education.
What drew you to rural medicine?
My dad did the Indian Health Service Scholarship Program as a doctor and my mom did it as a nurse practitioner. We lived on the Colville reservation in Omak, Washington until I was about 12, when they bought a hazelnut farm southwest of Salem. More than anything, growing up in a rural environment makes me want to go back there to practice medicine. I love being in the country. It’s nice to be able to walk out your back door and know there’s not another house for a couple of miles.
Occasionally, when I get stir crazy in the city, I go work on my parent’s farm for a week.
What insights did you gain while serving oversees?
When I was deployed in Afghanistan and Central America, we learned how to treat things like scorpion stings, trauma and malnutrition. There were two physicians we could call on satellite phones, which made it less daunting, but it was also interesting to be able to do things myself. You learn how to make a decision and go with it. I think that applies to rural medicine, too.
What kind of doctor do you aspire to be?
When I was in Afghanistan I had an experience that helped me understand what kind of doctor I wanted to be. One night I was driving back to our base with my interpreter, Niamatullah Aslami – he went by “Nimo.” A Taliban rocket landed in the back of our truck and it tore Nimo’s leg off just below the knee. I treated him right there with a tourniquet, and then we high-tailed it out of there.
Back at the hospital, I was able to stay with him and assist with the surgery. After that, at the base, I took care of him for about 4 weeks, changing his dressings, giving antibiotics, whatever he needed. Then we found a piece of shrapnel in the upper leg that we had missed in the initial x-rays. It was causing him to get repeated infections. We removed the shrapnel and he started to heal.
I went back to the states shortly after that but we kept in touch via Facebook and email. Eventually I filled out the paperwork to bring him to the U.S. via political asylum. He stayed with me in Portland for six months and I taught him how to drive. Now he’s an Uber driver in Phoenix Arizona.
My relationship with Nimo taught me that I want to develop long-term relationships with my patients – not just treat one problem and move on. I want to understand the whole patient – their goals, their quality of life. My dad has patients he’s treated for 20 years. He would say that’s the most rewarding part of his practice.