Physician and Assistant Professor
Oregon Health and Science University
Raised in rural, northwoods WI the middle child of parents who valued family time and education.
Began spending summers in rural areas around Bemidji, MN
Joined local youth football program
Spent summers with Grandparents in Northern Minnesota
Grandfather died at an early age due to complications of brittle diabetes
Began working out at Tim Krumrie (NFL Pro-bowl defensemen) Human Performance Center. Erik was the most-improved athlete one summer and forever adopted Mr. Krumrie’s statement “Hard work pays off.”
Captain of high school sports teams and finished with multiple athletic honors. Graduated high school with academic honors and went on to college to participate in athletics.
Entered into the pre-medicine coursework because it was a pathway which you would “get kicked out of if you did not do well in your classes.”
Erik begins working summers at the local concrete mill to supplement Pell Grants and student loans for his college expenses.
Uncertain if he belonged in pre-medicine course work, Erik was denied a prestigious summer internship and nearly convinced him that medicine was not his path. Shortly afterwards, Erik was accepted into the University of Minnesota Duluth Medical School Native Americans Into Medicine Program.
For the first time Erik met Native American MEN who were physicians and medical students. He met both Dr. Arne Vainio, MD and Bret Benally-Thompson, MD (then MS3) on the same day.
Erik resumed college classes with rejuvenated passion and clear vision for his purpose in medicine.
Accepted to medical school at University of Minnesota Duluth and immediately withdrew all other medical school applications.
Entered the Rural Physicians Associate Program (RPAP) at University of Minnesota and was placed at the Bemidji, MN North Country Regional Hospital site.
Volunteered for the Cass Lake – Bena boys basketball team as their athletic trainer and followed the journey to the state tournament.
As a medical student, responded to the tragic high shooting in Red Lake, MN as a member of the general surgery team at North Country Regional Hospital. Erik’s life was changed forever, realizing there needs to be more Native Health professionals.
Moved to Seattle, WA and entered the Swedish Cherry Hill Family Medicine Residency Program and worked at the Seattle Indian Health Board site.
Moved to Madison, Wisconsin and began working in rural Emergency Rooms and hospitals in Northern Minnesota. Immediately sought ought Native undergraduate and health professional students to mentor.
Hired to work for the University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine as a hospitalist
Elected to the national board of the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) and served two terms. Dedicated efforts to advancing Native American voice in health professional schools.
Launched the University of Wisconsin Native American Center for Health Professions (UW-NACHP) and served as the director. Native presence at UW-SMPH increased by over 800% and Native American applications increased by over 250% during Erik’s time.
Moved to Portland, OR to work as a physician and researcher/assistant professor at Oregon Health and Science University.