Throughout my three-week experience in Bowdle, I was given the opportunity to see many different sides of the healthcare system. Not only was I able to see how the pharmacy works in a rural setting, but I was also able to experience pretty much every other aspect of rural healthcare. Everyone in Bowdle was extremely willing to show us different parts of their jobs and ultimately were the reason why this experience was so great.
For the first couple of days, I followed the pharmacist, Doug Turner. Being in such a small community, I saw that he really has to do it all. In the mornings, he goes to the hospital pharmacy where he does a lot of work with the inventory. After doing this, he goes and finishes the day at his retail pharmacy, which he actually owns. I was given the opportunity to also spend a few hours here and started learning their workflow. In addition to these two roles, he also takes part in medication reviews at the Bowdle nursing home. He mentioned that he really enjoys doing this since he gets to utilize more of his clinical knowledge by making suggestions to the providers, who he stated are always very open to changing patients’ regimens. This concept of playing so many roles is really the key to rural healthcare. In order to provide the best care to patients in a rural setting like this, it is crucial to be able to work in these various different areas of your field.
I also spent a few days with the two PAs that work in the clinic. Although I have seen the communication between a clinic and a pharmacy before, I had never seen the actual work within a clinic when dealing with patients. It was interesting to see how this patient-provider interaction works and all of the different steps taken when providing primary care to patients. Having worked primarily in a pharmacy, I have gotten used to being the “last step” in patient care, so it was really interesting to experience the “first steps” of when a patient first comes in contact with a provider.
We also spend partial days with the physical therapist and some of the administrative workers. Physical therapy was another aspect of healthcare that I have never really been exposed to, so it was interesting to see how that ties into the whole system. We watched both inpatient and outpatient sessions, which is probably pretty unique to a rural community. Like I mentioned before, this demonstrates more how important it is to be able to play all types of different roles when working in a rural community. Lastly, we were able to spend a half-day with administration and see how all of this background work comes into play. This is another aspect of healthcare that is probably not thought about a lot, so it was great to get to see how this background work really provides a base for everything that goes on in a healthcare system. Overall, my experience was fantastic. All of the workers were amazing to work with, and everyone was very knowledgeable in their field. It was great to see how diverse healthcare workers in a rural setting have to be and how vital it is that they are able to provide care to many different types of patients with many different types of situations. I got to see so many different sides of healthcare and improve my understanding of the healthcare system as a whole. I would definitely recommend doing the REHPS program in Bowdle!