REFLECTIONS BY MELISSA ZOOK FRANKLIN '94
Melissa Zook Franklin ‘94 was at Gettysburg College during the creation of the CPS. She reflects on her experience and how it has influenced her life today as she practices medicine in Eastern Kentucky:
Dora Townsend was my beloved mentor and I saw the Center for Public Service at its earliest stages. I was very involved in community service at Gettysburg prior to and after the CPS was founded. I was president of Alpha Phi Omega and Chair of the Social Justice Committee as well as a hospice volunteer and probably many other things I can't remember. After I graduated in 1994 I took a fellowship co-sponsored by the Congressional Hunger Center and Ameri-corps and spent time in rural Eastern Kentucky. While there I planned a service learning trip over the Thanksgiving holidays for Gettysburg students to eastern Kentucky. It was coordinated through the CPS.
After I finished my fellowship I returned to school and completed my premed requirements (a task for a History/Latin American Studies major). I went to Penn State for medical school and then trained in family medicine in Greensboro, NC. I now practice family medicine in the same rural Eastern Kentucky town – about 45 minutes from a hospital in any direction and am part of the only health care for the entire county. I am the medical director of the organization I work for – the White House Clinics. We are a federally qualified community health center which means that we receive special funding each year from the federal government so that we are able to provide primary health care to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. Without us – there would be no health care for the 11,000 people of the county we serve. We have an emergency room, x-ray facilities, a dentist, a pharmacy, a psychologist, a nutritionist, a social worker and mammography services within our office – all available to all folks regardless of income or insurance. Because we are so rural we see a great many things that many other doctors would not and my job is challenging but deeply satisfying. I see patients in the office and the hospital and make house calls too. I probably have one of the only SUVs in America that actually goes down dirt and gravel roads on a regular basis. My patients bring me gifts from their garden and have really made me feel welcomed in the community. I teach medical students and residents and am still involved in community service through my work on our local hospice board.
The concept of service learning was one discovered and embraced early on in my time at Gettysburg. The principle guides every decision I make about my career and my life – there is no higher calling than to use the gift of education and time to benefit and serve others. As a rural family doctor I will spend the rest of my working life learning about medicine, culture and interpersonal relations and using that knowledge in service to others who need me most.
Read the May 2008 Alumni e-Newsletter!