In the world of healthcare, it is known that there is a lack of healthcare availability in rural and underdeveloped areas. This is serious problem that causes numerous communities to suffer from health issues that could easily be treated or prevented. This is the main reason as to why there needs to be programs that help these certain areas by bringing in future healthcare professionals to help make a change. Rural Experiences for Health Professions Students (REHPS) is a program which allows healthcare students to work in theses suffering communities and gain experience to potentially one day work in a similar area. I am proud to say that I am one of the students that has been able to represent this program.
For my REHPS experience I was placed at Coteau des Prairies Health Care System in Sisseton, SD. It was nice to be in this area since it was the community that I grew up in. During my time at CDP everyone was always welcoming, nice, and helpful. It was exciting to see how much the facility has expanded since I had been in high school. My first couples of days was pretty much getting use to their system and how they like to operate. I thought it was interesting to see how everyone communicated and functioned since it is a smaller facility.
My first week they had me scheduled mostly with Michaela Johnson who is the pharmacist at CDP. I thought it was really cool to see how their pharmacy goes about filling medications for patients since this the area of my profession. I got to see firsthand how patients are admitted, cared for, and this discharged. Since it was basically Michaela and I in the pharmacy, I had the opportunity to do things such as sterile compounding, medication reconciliation, and addressing patient problems to their healthcare provider. It was nice to be taken seriously about my recommendations and not just looked at as a student. This will help with my professional skills as I move forward in my education.
The second week I was able to get a little taste of the other areas in the hospital. The other places I got experience in was the emergency department and the clinic portion of the facility. It was interesting to see the emergency department when it was busy. The main person that I shadowed in the ER was Nate Tiedeman who is a CNP. I was able to see things all the way from looking at X-rays to helping suture up lacerations on patients. The ER here at CDP was either busy or slow, no in between. The clinic side of CDP seemed to always be active. The first provider I shadowed was Dr. Tomboulian. She was very educational and open to any suggestions that I had when we were in with patients. It was interesting to see the provider side of the healthcare since I am so use to just the pharmacy side.
The last couple of weeks I was pretty much everywhere else in the hospital besides the pharmacy. I was able to get in a bunch of hours in the operating room. The main providers that I shadowed during this time were Dr. Ramon Morales who is the surgeon and Chris Fisher who is a CRNA. I got to see hemorrhoid removals, abscess drainages, gallbladder removals, EDGs, and colonoscopies. Both Ramon and Chris were very good at making everything a learning and educational experience. I also had the chance to see the pediatric dentist Dr. Zimmer. They only do dental procedures in the OR once a week so it was cool to watch tooth caps be placed.
The rest of the time in these two weeks was spent shadowing in the clinic. I had the chance to shadow Dr. Stan Gallagher and Dr. Jackie Barlett. They did happen to have some interesting cases during my shadowing time. I saw a severe burn patient, toe nail removal, huge blister cleaning, burning off of skin lesions, and skin cancer removals. During the skin cancer removal, Dr. Gallagher let me place some sutures on a patient’s head. I really enjoyed seeing the provider aspect of healthcare and how they go about making decisions for their patients.
My time here at Coteau des Prairies Health Care System will be something that I will never forget. I am just thankful that I was able to be a part of this program and work within this rural community. I think that the REHPS program is doing a wonderful job with what they are trying to accomplish. I would recommend this program to any health care professional student that is passionate about working to make a change in a suffering community. My experience here has also put thoughts into my head of continuing my education and possibly achieving another degree in a different health care profession. I just want to thank all the staff at CDP and Cheri who has done an amazing job with this program and its students. Thank you!