Dr. Lora Bennett serves as Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr. Bennett grew up outside of Chicago, IL and attended Valparaiso University for her baccalaureate degree in Nursing/Biology with a Chemistry minor. She completed her medical school training with the military at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD, and went on to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida for her Family Medicine Internship and Residency.
After her post-graduate education, Dr. Bennett received further training as an Air Force Flight Surgeon and was privileged to care for and fly with the United States’ premier pilots of various airframes to include F-16s, B-1 bombers, KC-135 refuelers, C-5 tankers, and Blackhawk helicopters. She was stationed at and deployed to numerous locations including Germany, Korea, Oman, Bahrain, Turkey, Kuwait. Her last assignment was at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, where she decided to separate from the Air Force to settle in beautiful Colorado.
Dr. Bennett completed a two-year Associate Fellowship in Integrative Medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona. Soon thereafter, she started a private practice, Family Medicine Clinic outside of Boulder, CO. She founded this practice on Integrative Medicine principles of holistic and collaborative care, partnering with her patients to utilize the best of Eastern and Western medicine.
In 2017, she was recruited to re-join the military as a Flight Surgeon for the Boise Air National Guard. Soon thereafter, she was blessed to be asked to join the staff at ICOM and so she and her husband and their dog moved to Idaho in June of 2018. In her free time, Dr. Bennett loves to hike, ski, camp, bike, cook, garden, entertain and read.
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in medicine?
A: I have always loved the basic sciences (especially biology and anatomy) as well as trying to figure out how things work, including the human body. I remember as a middle-schooler asking my mother for the giblet package that came with the Thanksgiving turkey, so that I could dissect the heart, liver and gizzard, as I was fascinated by the intricacy of it all and wanted to understand how everything worked. Our body is an amazingly complex, inter-related and orchestrated system that is highly resilient despite the stresses placed upon it.
I am also fascinated by people, and enjoy learning what makes them tick & how their life experiences have shaped them and their choices in how they take care for (or abuse) their mental, physical and spiritual selves.
Medicine was truly a calling for me, as God has blessed me with the ability to care for others and He provided me the resources, family support and training I needed to do just that. Being a physician and caring for people during some of their most vulnerable times is a challenging, humbling and amazingly rewarding experience.
Q: How did you transition into academia, and what inspired you to work for ICOM?
A: As a solo practitioner in Boulder, CO for 11 years, it became more and more difficult to financially stay afloat since small practices have very little negotiating power with the insurance companies in receiving a reasonable reimbursement rate. My medical group commander in the Air National Guard asked me if I’d ever thought about teaching as a career option; he stated that as a physician we positively impact one patient (or a family) at a time, but as a teacher of medical students we could potentially impact thousands of patients through those future physicians. What a cool concept. He also told me about a new medical school was being built in Boise (ICOM) and that he thought I should apply. When I read the mission statement of ICOM and interviewed here, I felt like “wow, these are my people” and then was so amazed that they offered me the job!
Q: What is your favorite memory from your time at medical school?
A: I had a professor at USUHS that was an incredible mentor to me…he was an entomologist (which I didn’t particularly have any interest in) but he was so vibrant and alive and passionate about teaching students, that I was drawn to him. He tried to learn most student’s names and something unique about each student. He was a fellow sky-diver and so he and I would share stories. When I was tired of school, or ready to quit during my first two years he would take me out to lunch and encourage me to not give up. I became good friends with he and his wife and still see them regularly, even to this day. His belief in me and the encouragement he gave me, were key reasons I made it through medical school.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: By far, the best part of this job is the faculty and students. I have never worked anywhere that has such an amazingly talented, selfless and dedicated professionals and support staff that are a joy to be around. I don’t see the huge egos that you sometimes hear about at academic institutions, but instead I see folks trying their very best to collaboratively train these superb young men and women students. The student doctors here are much more well-rounded, community-minded and clinically-oriented than I know I was at this stage. It will be exciting to see where they go and how they impact the field of medicine in the future. What an honor to play a small role in that process.
Q: What advice do you have for ICOM’s student-doctors as they prepare to become physicians?
A: This is a challenging time to be entering medicine, to keep the patient as the top priority, while trying to figure out how to deliver and finance effective healthcare in the United States. I truly believe that these talented and driven student doctors will be part of the solution to these problems. Despite the challenges, I think that the technological and treatment advances we’re seeing in medicine, guarantees that it will be continue to be an exciting and rewarding career for those brave enough to take it on.