"Small-town girl" returns as MD
By Jim Poole
It only happens in movies, right?
Small-town kid leaves home, makes good, spurns the cities and returns to help her community be a better place.
That’s the script written, directed and played by Darah Wright––now Dr. Wright––when she came back to Cobleskill last month to practice family medicine.
“I appreciate rural communities and wanted to be where people needed doctors,” said Dr. Wright, who grew up in Cobleskill and is a 1998 Cobleskill-Richmondville graduate.
“I wanted to be in a place where I could make a difference.”
Still, the long trip from hometown and back again is unusual, almost unheard of. Going to college, med school and internships exposes fledgling doctors to more growth opportunities and places with more amenities––both professional and private––than Schoharie County might.
“A lot train in big, urban hospitals,” said Eric Stein, president and CEO of Cobleskill Regional Hospital. “Not many come back.”
Here or elsewhere, there was never much question whether Dr. Wright would become a physician.
While growing up, the daughter of Bruce and Anita Wright talked often with Joseph Sellers, now medical director of Bassett Healthcare.
Dr. Sellers’ encouraging words led Dr. Wright to enter the New Visions program while a high school senior. She went to Ellis Hospital in Schenectady every school day.
“It was an integrated program, so I got to see all aspects of a hospital, from the cafeteria to open-heart surgery,” Dr. Wright said.
Dr. Wright was an honors graduate at SUNY Cobleskill, where she was in Primary Care for Rural Scholars, a program that directed health-care professionals to rural areas.
From there, Dr. Wright went to SUNY Binghamton and then earned her medical degree at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.
She then practiced for two years at a clinic in rural Potsdam, a step that helped cement her decision.
“They had amazing physicians, and I saw they made a huge difference in the community,” Dr. Wright said.
“I was already pretty dedicated to practicing in a rural area, and they helped me decide I wanted to be in family medicine.”
And although primary care physicians generally earn less than specialists, Dr. Wright saw other advantages.
“I like to meet different people, and I like the variety and the challenges it offers,” she said.
Many factors figured in returning to Bassett Healthcare in Cobleskill: experiences in school and 4-H, friends, family, familiarity with the area and its lifestyle.
“I appreciate all the great things we have here,” Dr. Wright said. “And so many people here, not just friends and family, helped me become the physician I am. It’s a way to express my gratitude.”
Another factor was Dr. Sellers himself.
“I had a long discussion with him about how he handled working here,” Dr. Wright said. “And then he said, ‘Hey, ever think about coming back?’ ”
“Dr. Wright wanted to be sure she’d have a challenging practice, a good mix of patients and be involved in medical education,” Dr. Sellers said.
Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown provides the link to medical education. Dr. Wright will be involved with Bassett’s program with Columbia University, working with med students at the Cooperstown hospital.
“Bassett makes a difference and gives her a unique opportunity to be involved in education,” Dr. Sellers said.
Mr. Stein agreed.
“Dr. Wright coming back is a tremendous demonstration that this community and Bassett Healthcare have a lot to offer young professionals,” he said.
And, Mr. Stein added, her return is a huge plus for the area..
“Bringing back a local person validates the very great community we have,” he said. “To know us is to love us.”
Dr. Wright started at Bassett Healthcare on August 10. She and her husband, Jesse Cosser, have a home in Cobleskill.
“I’m very happy here,” Dr. Wright said. “I really enjoy working with the doctors, meeting new patients and building a practice.”