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Dr. Emmert returns to mid-valley to finish residency

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
Dr. Amanda Emmert, the first local graduate of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest campus in Lebanon, has returned to Oregon to complete her residency through a fellowship at Samaritan Mental Health in Corvallis.
Emmert, of Lebanon, and her husband, Ben Emmert, of Sweet Home, married in 2014, the same year she entered medical school.
“It has been a ride,” Ben said. “It’s gotten us out of our comfort zone, to say the least, (which includes) taking risk, quitting my job here, selling my house, starting over in a place where we didn’t have anybody.”
In 2018, Amanda graduated with her doctorate in osteopathic medicine, and the pair packed bags for Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., where she would begin work as a resident psychiatrist.
Until her final rotation in her third year at COMP-Northwest, she had planned to be a pediatrician. Her last clinical rotation was at Samaritan in Corvallis, and that was when she realized she’d prefer child psychiatry.
“I really was interested in learning about their lives, learning about how we can help them be successful long term and what interventions we could do now that would make a difference intergenerationally,” she said.
Amanda has returned to that same clinic for a two-year fellowship.
While at Creighton, she trained at different sites throughout Nebraska, working at various hospitals and clinics and at Veterans Affairs.
“It was beneficial in that I got a bigger diversity of experiences,” she said.

THE EMMERTS, Ben and Amanda, with their son, Cooper.

The Emmerts are happy to be back in their home state, with their 1-year-old son, Cooper. Amanda said being near family while raising a child was one of the deciding factors for returning.
“We kind of both felt like it was time for us to go back, be closer to family, especially now as our family’s growing,” she said. “You just want to have that support.”
But other factors played a role, too.
Starting a fellowship at Samaritan in her final year of residency puts her on the fast track to completing her training. Also, she can receive loan forgiveness for her education if she remains in Oregon as a physician.
“They’re trying to retain physicians and other health care providers back here,” she said. “Also, specifically the one I had received through OHSU [Oregon Health & Science University], rural Oregon is the number one thing.”
Amanda is curious to see how telemedicine might play out in Oregon. While in Omaha, she provided telehealth to remote areas, working with patients through phone and video calls.
Telehealth works well in her field, she said, and it became even more useful and efficient during the pandemic, especially for child psychiatrists, who are in short supply.
“So that’s kind of something that I am looking into, of, you know, what are the potentials to reach maybe some of the more rural communities,” she said.
The Emmerts returned to Ore-gon at the end of June, and Amanda started her new position just a few days later.
“It’s been a crazy few weeks,” she said.
While his wife settles into her fellowship, Ben has been settling the household.
But, he joked, “I tell her every day that I’m retired.”
When the Emmerts married, Ben worked as a forester for Cascade Timber Consulting, Inc. in Sweet Home. In Nebraska, he used his degree in natural resources to work for Rock Hills Energy, a large natural gas company.
With a new baby in their lives, living in Nebraska without their family was a big hurdle, he said, so they’re glad to be back.
“We’ve enjoyed the ride, but it was a lot more challenging there than it is here,” Ben said. “I feel like I’m working harder than I ever did when I was working, just chasing him all day. But Cooper is a ton of fun. I’m excited for when he’s just a little bit older and I can take him fishing.”

Amanda Emmert outside her office at Samaritan Mental Health in Corvallis.

During her fellowship at Samaritan, Amanda will work with inpatient and outpatient clinics; see patients at Linn County Mental Health, ABC House and a nearby detention center; work with the Jackson Street Youth Shelter; go to Portland for child neurology; and participate in an integrated care model by providing consultations to pediatricians.
She is particularly drawn to serving youth who come from difficult home situations or who have committed an offense.
While in Nebraska, Amanda moonlighted as a contract psychiatrist at the state prison. Her job was to perform mental health assessments on inmates being transferred from jail to prison.
“I just loved working with that population. I learned a lot and I would definitely do it again,” she said.
While her job was not to perform any sort of forensic interviews, she heard a lot of the inmates’ stories and found the work fascinating.
“The life experiences they’ve had are very interesting. As you start to hear some of their backstories of how they got to where they are, it starts to add up,” she said.
For example, one may have been given methamphetamine by their parents when he or she was 12 and is now in jail with a meth disorder, she explained.
While in Nebraska, Amanda said she learned a lot both academically and professionally. Last year, she worked with the mentally ill, and with patients suffering from substance abuse disorders.
“That was a clinic that really pushed me because you kind of need to learn, like, what are your own boundaries, and be really comfortable in that despite if someone’s maybe pressuring you to prescribe a certain medication,” she said. “You definitely would get that, and that was difficult.
“It definitely tests you a lot, especially as you’re learning in your own self, like, how am I as a doctor, how do I relate to my patients?
“If you have someone who’s really pushing back or really difficult, it teaches you a lot about yourself, like, what are your own boundaries? And how can you can communicate that in a way that’s both firm, but also kind?”
As for living in Nebraska, she confirmed the state’s reputation for “Nebraska nice,” referring to the friendliness of the people.
“They’re very kind,” she said. “I felt like people there, they’ll go out of their way to help you.”