Having completed my first two weeks of the REHPS program in Miller, South Dakota, I am really starting to enjoy closeness of the community and the quality of resources it offers. As a native resident of Sioux Falls, I grew up knowing healthcare as a series of short appointments where I never knew my providers outside of the clinic. Medicine has a very different atmosphere in a rural community like Miller. As soon as the patient walks into the clinic or the pharmacy, or even gets wheeled into the ER, it’s like a reunion of family, friends, or acquaintances between everyone involved. Though this doesn’t necessarily change the way medicine is practiced, there is a more personal element to patient care here that is heartwarming to see.
The resources that Miller has to offer surprised me as well. The hospital, recently updated, has a variety of advanced equipment and provides a centralized location for most medical services in Miller, with a network of outreach doctors who can provide more specialized services when necessary. These outreach services make effective diagnosis and treatment much more accessible for local residents. Though there are still some services only offered in nearby Huron, Pierre, Sioux Falls, or even Minneapolis, the majority of patient needs can now be met without ever leaving town. I look forward to further expanding my experiences over the next two weeks, which may include exploring more of the town, shadowing two of the local surgeons, and completing our community project.
With my time in Miller coming to an end, I feel that I have received a very comprehensive and welcoming experience these last four weeks. I explored more of the town and surrounding area, visiting most locations and restaurants in downtown Miller, spending some time at nearby Lake Louise, and staying a night at a local bed and breakfast. We also completed our community project at the beginning of our last week, performing a number of grip strength, blood pressure, and blood sugar screenings. Patients were very friendly and willing to participate, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to improve my screening skills and interact closely with the community.
Other experiences in my last two weeks included shadowing two different surgeons, one of whom performed cataract surgeries and the other colonoscopies and an endoscopy. As someone who hasn’t previously viewed surgery within an operating room, I found the experience exciting and valuable to understanding the general process of performing minor surgical procedures. It surprised me how quickly they could work through a list of patients, as I had always thought of any type of surgery as an extensive process.
My time in Miller was a very positive experience. I enjoyed getting to know the area and the community members, and I’ve gained a lot of experience and knowledge to keep with me as I move toward a future career in pharmacy.