After 11 years of post-high school education and medical training, a 2007 graduate of Nevada High School is planning a return to Nevada, and the start of what she hopes will be a long medical career at the local hospital.

Audra (Lloyd) Poterucha, 29, plans to return to Nevada in August of 2019, to be a full-time family physician with Story County Medical Center.

Currently, Poterucha is a third-year family medicine resident physician at Broadlawns Medical Center, the Polk County hospital in Des Moines. She is part of the family medicine residency program at Broadlawns.

“As a family physician, I have been trained in a broad spectrum of medicine and am excited (for the future) to provide many services, including but not limited to, routine physical exams and preventative care, acute sick visits, pediatrics, geriatrics and women’s health,” she said.

Poterucha graduated from Iowa State in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She spent a year working at the USDA vet lab in Ames and then was accepted at Des Moines University (DMU) for medical school in 2012. She graduated from DMU in 2016 as a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) and started her residency in family medicine at Broadlawns in June 2016.

“I’ve been at Broadlawns Medical Center ever since and live close to the hospital here in Des Moines,” she said.

During her time at DMU, Poterucha rotated as a medical student with Story Medical’s Dr. Art Check for a few months. “I really enjoyed my experience with him,” she said. “I liked the variety of his schedule, the people he cared for and the positive impact he had on the Story County community.”

About a year ago, she heard that Story Medical was looking for potential providers to add to the Nevada practice, and she got an interview for the position.

She also had the opportunity to do another job shadowing with Dr. Check this past spring. “I was able to see the clinic and hospital as a physician and potential employee. I felt very comfortable and was treated so warmly by everyone I interacted with,” she said.

Poterucha said the Story Medical administrative team, particularly CEO Nate Thompson, was very open and honest. “(They) don’t display the bureaucratic ivory-tower mentality that is unfortunately common in larger health care systems. I knew that Story County Medical Center would provide me with a nurturing environment full of supportive employees, and allow me to develop my skills further as a physician,” she said.

Looking back

Poterucha admits that becoming a physician has not been easy.

“In June 2019, I will complete 11 years of post-high school education and medical training (four years undergrad, four years medical school, three years residency). I feel as if I’ve been on a marathon and am finally seeing the finish line. There have been many tears, many 80-hour work weeks, and days when I’ve been physically and emotionally overwhelmed,” she said.

“However, I’ve had incredible support from my husband, family, friends and colleagues over the years, and in the end, I’m very grateful for the opportunity and honor to be a physician and care for others.”

Returning to Nevada will be a return to a place where she loved growing up, she said. “With my mom as a teacher, I was always hanging around the high school, even as an elementary student, and remember the other teachers always looking out for me. Therefore, I became pretty close to many teachers over the years and truly appreciated the education I received at Nevada.

“I become very sentimental thinking of all the memories I made during high school while participating in music, speech, FFA and other various extracurricular activities, as they were some of the best years of my life. A few memories that stand out are riding the spirit buses to away basketball games with Mr. Cooper as our bus driver and chillin’ and grillin’ in the school parking lot before home football games,” she said.

Cooper, Nevada’s ag teacher and FFA advisor, in fact, is one of the people Poterucha said had a huge influence on her. “Mr. Cooper is one of my role models in life. I think of him like my uncle. He is the epitome of passion and selflessness. He gives 110 percent to his students and is such a kind-hearted man.”

Another teacher who was a big influence for her was Michael Lawler. “Mr. Lawler was particularly influential as he was a great science teacher, and his anatomy and physiology class sparked my interest in medicine.”

And she can’t leave out a mention of her piano teacher. “I also have many wonderful memories of Marilyn Argotsinger and her piano lessons as she literally watched me grow up on her piano bench,” Poterucha said.’

“I grew up surrounded by many selfless, giving, salt-of-the-earth people and would like to think I’ve continued those qualities in my life as well. Growing up in a small town also allows you to make wonderful, deep friendships. The friends I made in middle school are still some of my best friends today. In fact, one of my best friends, Alex Jacob (previously Ackerman), went to DMU with me and is also at Broadlawns. We have been such a great support system to one another, and I know that is because of our shared Nevada background.”

Family and the future

Poterucha still has family in the Nevada area. Her parents, Chris and Charlie Lloyd, still live here, as does her brother, James, who is a second-grade teacher at West Marshall Schools.

In fact, during the time she’s been away, she’s come back to Nevada often, at least one or two times a month, to visit her family, and to take part in Trivia Nights that are held locally. She and her husband enjoy those events.

She married her husband, Rob, almost three years ago. “He is a fellow Iowa State graduate and works as a CPA for McGowen, Hurst, Clark, and Smith, an accounting firm in West Des Moines,” she said. “We are avid Cyclone fans and enjoy watching various ISU sporting events, including football games, for which we have season tickets. We also enjoy musicals and go to the Civic Center regularly for performances. We also recently added a very energetic and loving Golden Retriever puppy — now 6 months old and 55 pounds — to our lives and are plenty busy with him.”

As she considers what her future holds, Poterucha said she sees herself being a physician for the long haul.

“Medicine is always changing, and I see something new and different every day while at work. I truly believe working in health care is a ‘calling’ for me,” she said.

“I consider it an honor and privilege to be with patients at some of the best and worst times of their lives. I once had a call shift where I both delivered a baby and cared for hospice patient who died. There are not many professions where you get to see that type of full spectrum of life. Although it sounds clichéd, I do enjoy helping others and find it important to help others live full and healthy lives.”

When she returns to Nevada next August, Poterucha will primarily be a clinic-based doctor, but said she looks forward to the variety of things she’ll do here. She said she will take care of patients in the hospital, provide oversight in the ER if needed, perform nursing home rounds at Senior Care and handle other job duties as needed.

“The opportunity to work in a rural environment and become part of my hometown community is wonderful, and I know I will be ‘at home’ in Nevada.”