“My time in Bowdle opened my eyes to all of the endless teamwork, sacrifice, and dedication it takes to provide healthcare in rural communities. Small towns aren’t just made up of a bunch of small families. The whole town really ends up becoming one big family, always finding ways to care for one another. It’s simply the best way of living.”
From the very moment I arrived in Bowdle, SD, I knew I was surrounded with some of the kindest people I have ever met. Kristi and I’s apartment was stocked with an entire basket full of snacks from our hosts, Doug, and Mary Turner. Everyone gave us the warmest welcome and made sure I had everything I needed to feel at home. I was able to see just how important everyone in this community is at making rural healthcare run so smoothly, as well as how special each one of the team members truly is.
A large focus of my time spent in Bowdle was centered around the pharmacy role in a small community. Doug Turner is the hospital and retail pharmacist in town, and he spends most of his time bouncing back and forth between the hospital pharmacy and Turner Drug, a retail pharmacy in town. Shortly before my arrival in Bowdle, Doug had sold his pharmacy, Turner Drug, and began cutting back his work hours at the store. He currently works 1-2 days at Turner Drug, while spending the remaining days of his week at the hospital pharmacy. In the hospital pharmacy, Doug and I spent much of our time managing inventory, ordering, restocking medications, and organizing reports. The management side I got to explore with Doug was beneficial, as this is something I have not gotten to spend as much time doing in the past. We also spent a lot of time stocking Pyxis machines and checking outdates to ensure no expired drugs were left readily available. One unique aspect of Doug’s role as the pharmacist, included his medication chart reviews at the Bowdle nursing home. Doug spends an evening at the nursing home every month, reviewing each resident’s file to see how he can intervene his clinical knowledge in decreasing the number of medications, doses, or unneeded medications taken for improved health benefit. He expressed great liking toward this portion of his career, as he feels like he can apply more clinical skills toward his work. Doug wears many hats throughout the community, as he crosses back and forth between hospital and community pharmacist, but he does it with such class and really demonstrates great leadership in his broad variety of daily tasks.
Throughout our time in Bowdle, we were also able to spend some time with the physical and occupational therapists. Though they do lots of hospital inpatient and clinic outpatient work, they spend a significant amount of their time with residents in the nursing home. These two healthcare roles were something I have never really been exposed to but that I really enjoyed throughout my time in Bowdle. With occupational therapy, we spent time working with patients on cognitive ability, balance, and even daily tasks like putting on socks. Physical therapy spent a lot of time assessing and providing patients with ways to improve back pain by implementing daily core exercises. It was interesting getting to attend team progress meetings that consisted of the occupational therapist, physical therapist, nursing home manager, and human resource representative. They all collaborated interprofessionally to provide each patient with the highest quality of care, which I really enjoyed seeing from a pharmacy standpoint to greater understand what happens behind the scenes, leading up to prescriptions being sent into the pharmacy.
I also was able to spend time with nurses, home-health, providers, radiology, administration, telehealth, and speech pathology. These were all such unique experiences, and ones that I enjoyed individually for various reasons. In a rural community, I found that everyone wears many hats to provide care for individuals in the community. Not one individual’s role was less important than the next, and I never realized how much coordination and teamwork goes into each transition of care, as well as each individual patient visit. Bowdle Healthcare felt like a small family, and I can’t express enough how caring each person was. Everyone was so fun to work with, and this was the most pleasantly energized environment to learn in over the course of 3 weeks. We were invited out to community member’s homes for dinner, on a fishing trip to the river, on a trip to go view the Hoven Catholic church, and even offered to come use people’s stoves if we ever needed to cook anything. This was such a welcoming town, and I couldn’t be more grateful for my time getting to know everyone in Bowdle. I have such a greater understanding and appreciation for rural healthcare, and I applaud everyone for their dedication to care for the community at every hour of the day on any day of the week. The REHPS program in Bowdle, SD is top-notch, and I would recommend it to any individual pursuing a career in healthcare.