New Sweet Home doctor came in search of rural practice

Audrey Caro Gomez

Sweet Home Family Medicine’s newest doctor has a reputation for exceeding patient expectations, in a way.

“Where I was previously, they would laugh at me,” said Bridget Shariat, D.O., who specializes in family medicine.

During appointments, she would try to take care of any ailments or routine exams patients might need help with, in addition to the reason for their scheduled visits.

“Your ankle hurts, and I’m doing your pap smear and removing this mole,” Shariat said. “I just want to get you all taken care of so that you don’t have to come back for a long time.”

Part of the benefit of that approach is it cuts down on a patient’s wait time.

“It’s nice to not have to refer people,” Shariat said. “I can take care of you today; you don’t have to wait three weeks to get in to (see) a dermatologist or surgeon or something like that and have that taken care of. If they need to that’s fine, but I think it just more speaks to the comprehensive care part.”

Shariat moved to Corvallis in the beginning of June with her boyfriend Ben Oldson, who also is a physician.

The couple met in Colorado during their residencies and then moved to Iowa. Shariat grew up in Nashville, Tenn.

“We’ve been to Oregon several times and really liked it and wanted to eventually move here,” Shariat said.

They were in Iowa, where Oldson’s parents live, for several years, which fit their desire to work in a rural practice.

Shariat started working in Sweet Home last month, taking over Alan Blake’s patient panel. Blake has been unable to work after suffering a severe stroke last year while on a missions trip to eastern Europe.

“The first visit is the longest because I’m trying to wrap my head around what’s been going on for the last year plus,” Shariat said.

Subsequent visits will be shorter, she said.

Shariat also is accepting new patients, though the schedule has not allowed for too many yet.

At her previous practice, she did a lot of women’s health.

“I was the only female delivery provider and I was the youngest, by far, so I really did a lot of women’s health,” Shariat said.

She performed procedures such as IUD insertions and discussed different birth control methods.

“A lot of women were coming to me just for their annual exams, and then on top of that (I was) doing a lot of OB care,” Shariat said. “I think just because of necessity for the people. Of course, here they have several women you could see, which is a switch. I think it’s just about giving young women options as far as if you don’t want to talk to certain people about certain things, I can help you.”

Shariat realizes her patients who are older will have different concerns, such as quality of life.

Trying to help people keep an easier routine “and certainly as they get older, reassessing some of their goals of care and what they want out of life,” is part of that conversation.

As for helping all of her patients have overall healthy lifestyles, Shariat draws on the things that she and most people enjoy about Oregon.

“The thing that drew me to Oregon is access to the outdoors, access to produce,” Shariat said. “It’s just so abundant here. And lots of people here keep gardens, which is wonderful.”

She uses that as a starting point to talk with her patients.

“Just having that discussion about, have you talked to your children about how you keep a garden? Have you shown them how to do this? Do they pick stuff from it for dinner?”

Shariat’s own garden includes herbs, peppers, cucumbers, and hot peppers, which she planted after moving here and realizing that Oregon’s gardening season is much different than Iowa’s.

Fortunately, one of her patients is a master gardener and shared some tips.

“I think it’s really cool you guys have a much longer growing season and that makes me really excited,” Shariat said.

Exercise is another component of health she emphasizes.

There are a lot of options in this area for exercise. Shariat enjoys hiking.

“It doesn’t have to be that you join a gym,” Shariat said. “Go for a walk. There’s all kinds of things you can do that don’t cost very much.

“I think that the preventive care is really why a lot of us are in primary care. It’s to keep you healthy without a lot of invasive things and so the lifestyle things are the big ones.”