My three-week experience in Bowdle was nothing short of wonderful. The first day, we had the opportunity to meet everyone at the Bowdle Healthcare Center (BHC), eat some good food at the famous Drake’s C-store and settle into our accommodations. Every person was incredibly kind and welcoming, and I knew right away that I was going to enjoy my time there. During the three weeks, Allison and I were fortunate to work with the three providers, nurses, administration, physical therapist and radiology technicians. Allison and I were also able to teach each other about our professional programs and we became quick friends.
The BHC is found in Bowdle, where the population is about 500 people. However, they serve over 3,000 people, as they are the main provider for neighboring communities. This includes Selby, Hosmer, Hoven, and many more. Being able to see the BHC function from essentially every angle helped me learn the value of great teamwork. Every person at the BHC excelled in their job and I was very fortunate to see them work. I specifically learned a lot from the physician. Spending time with her taught me that even on the busiest days, providers can give as much time and attention as each patient requires and still remain efficient in making sure each of them is taken care of. I also had the privilege to go on some home visits with some of the nurses. During these visits, I was able to practice my clinical skills by taking vital signs. Furthermore, Allison taught me a lot about the mechanisms behind the medications that the patients were taking. I also got to see multiple CT scans, ultrasounds and echocardiograms. I learned so much from the radiology technicians, as they were very patient with me even when I would ask countless questions!
The community in and around Bowdle was so much fun to explore and every person we met along the way was incredibly friendly. From exploring the beautiful St. Anthony of Padua Church (Cathedral of the Prairie) in Hoven to eating some good grub in Akaska, I truly feel I got the best rural experience. Allison and I were fortunate to be invited to peoples’ homes for dinners in Bowdle, go fishing on Lake Oahe, and use the clinic conference room to study. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we were not able to host an in-person community event. However, we were able to put together a tri-fold presentation on good handwashing etiquette. This was displayed in the clinic waiting area, along with bundles of crayons and small coloring packets with informative drawings and puzzles for kids to take home. This was displayed halfway through our time in Bowdle, and we were fortunate to see many kids taking advantage of coloring pages. The school system in Bowdle will resume in-person learning starting in August, and we hope that our presentation and coloring pages will help young students continue to practice good handwashing techniques in school.
My time at the BHC was the first time I had experienced a rural healthcare system. I am pleased to say that the experience was phenomenal. I learned a lot about rural life and what healthcare issues are pertinent in rural areas and for what reasons. I also understood the community experience, as people truly are family to one another in small towns. I can say with confidence that anyone who is fortunate to be in Bowdle for their REHPS rotation will thoroughly enjoy the experience, just as I did.