The experience with the REHPS program in Scotland, SD for one month really was an all-encompassing experience. It was different from other clinical experiences in that I was able to actually follow and participate with other disciplines and it has helped me view the entirety of the patient’s experience. It was easy to navigate between professions because all of the departments are connected within the same building, as many rural facilities are. Physical therapy, the hospital, clinic, pharmacy and even an elderly apartment building were all connected.
One thing I loved about the experience was that within the same week, I might see the same patient two to three times, but in different departments. For example, we saw a patient with shoulder pain that we ordered an MRI and physical therapy for. So I was able to go to the MRI truck the next day, see them being scanned and talk to the technicians about their job. Then a day or two later I was following physical therapy and saw the same patient at their therapy session!
Even though I grew up in a rural town in South Dakota, I never really experienced how healthcare is different in rural areas and how facilities and workers must adapt to fewer resources. Working in rural medicine entails a lot of dedication, as there may be only 2-3 people who staff a department that needs 24/7 access for emergencies. Not only do they have to be on-call often, but they maintain their clinic hours the next day too, sacrificing their sleep for their patients. With that being said, I truly felt a positive attitude from all of the healthcare professionals in that facility. Regardless of if they were called in the night before to tend to an emergency and did not get to sleep until after midnight, they were still smiling the next morning at 8am for their first patients. The REHPS program helped me to see that in rural medicine, regardless how tough it can be, they love their patients and they love their community.