They say it’s all about the journey, not the destination. We say that the destination is still worth celebrating—especially when it involves having a talented new physician like Dr. Erin Schrunk join our practice.
Having recently finished her residency in Lincoln, Nebraska and joined the team at Associates in Family Medicine, Schrunk has barely finished unpacking since her move to Fort Collins at the end of August. But that hasn’t stopped her from backpacking the trails and mountains that surround her new home.
Schrunk has already traversed an impressive amount of Colorado terrain, from the trails of the Poudre Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park to the mountains of Breckenridge and beyond. And as someone who once pondered a career as a park ranger, Schrunk is acclimating perfectly to the natural beauty of her Northern Colorado surroundings. “It’s like an outdoor playground,” she says. “Being in the fresh air and sunshine just makes me smile, and you don’t see an unhappy person on the trails.”
While she’s always been an outdoor enthusiast, Schrunk’s love for backpacking didn’t surface until her undergraduate years of college in her home state of Iowa. “I decided to take a backpacking trip with an outdoor program, and I ended up getting a job helping to lead excursions and organize trips,” she remembers. “We did trips all over the place—Copper Canyon in Mexico, parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, plus Moab, the Grand Canyon, and the Rio Grande.”
As fate would have it, Schrunk’s passion for exploration and adventure is what set her on the course toward a medical career. “I actually started as a math major in college and didn’t really want to be a doctor,” she admits. “But then I went on a trip to Juarez, Mexico with a group that helped people living in a dump.” Schrunk smiles as she pictures this turning point on the trail of her life. “I watched the doctor who worked there, and that’s when I started to really consider going into medicine,” she says.
“I took a class that explored the health system there. I got to go with the aboriginal doctors who treated the remote village people and observe what they were doing.”
Schrunk’s final push to pursue a medical route came from yet another inspiring trip, this time to Costa Rica. “I took a class that explored the health system there,” she explains, the wonder of the experience still tangible in her voice. “I got to go with the aboriginal doctors who treated the remote village people and observe what they were doing,” recalls Schrunk.
Since these momentous travels, Schrunk has wholeheartedly embraced her path in medicine—a path that has been full of both adventure and satisfaction. From worldwide transits with her global med program during medical school to her current role as a family physician at AFM, Schrunk has enjoyed and valued every single journey.
By continuing to volunteer for medical expeditions in places like Haiti, Schrunk feeds her hunger for exploration and her desire to help others. And by working with patients of all ages at AFM, she travels with people through their health struggles and successes.
“I love how in medicine you get that bond with people and really feel like you’re making a difference, working with patients through their hard and good times,” she says. “You’re always learning, and you get to challenge yourself everyday.”
As she settles into life in Colorado after a remarkable trek toward medicine, Schrunk is certainly enjoying the view from her new family practice. “I love AFM, and everyone I have met here has been so friendly and down to earth,” she says genuinely. Yet Schrunk hasn’t entirely abandoned a future as a park ranger. “I always make a point to talk to the rangers before I hit the trail,” she smiles. “I figure that could be me someday…after retirement of course.”