2018 REHPS Justine Van Zee

Final Reflection:

As I think back to the last four weeks in Platte, South Dakota, there is so much that comes to mind. From the minute I began this experience, I realized that there was so much that this community had to offer. I have had the opportunity to learn and observe in a variety of places at the hospital, dental clinic, and local drug store to name a few. I am wonderfully overwhelmed with all that I have learned that I plan to take with me as continue to pursue an education to become a physical therapist one day. I love how everyone works together to provide the best patient care and you can tell that everyone truly cares for the patients.

I am also have enjoyed the time I have had in the community. Whether going to a movie at the locally-owned theatre, eating ice cream at “Little Brick” on the main street, or attending a fish fry fundraiser, there was so much that this community had to offer. Baseball games followed by firework shows, evenings spent running with a sunset backdrop, and afternoons spent window shopping the local shops and boutiques are some of my favorite parts of being in a rural community.

The most enriching part of my entire time in Platte without a doubt would be the people that I have met. They have made me feel welcome from day one, boosted my confidence to try new things and be brave, reminded me to take the time to laugh, and to always be ready to share what I have experienced with others. I also have family in the Platte area, so it was fun to be able to spend with them playing games, kayaking the Missouri River, and sharing meals together. The people have truly made this an unforgettable experience, and I am grateful to have been part of the REHPS program because this community of people have been such a blessing to me!

Week 1:

If I could summarize the first week in a one word, it would be the word “welcome.” From the moment I began my first day, my stomach was full of butterflies and my nervous voice resided in my throat. The butterflies and nerves quickly melted away as the staff here at my site welcomed me, and by the end of the week, these things were replaced with laughter and confidence. Each day I felt like I was welcomed part of the healthcare team. I am looking forward to what the coming weeks will hold as I continue to experience this welcoming community. Going forward, I am encouraged by the powerful impact of a warm welcome that I can have on both my patients and healthcare team. A welcome that aims to bring smiles and laughter to others, like I experienced first-hand, is wonderfully contagious.

Week 2:

“Brave,” a word that summarizes this week. And not just because this week we celebrate the independence of our country, but because this word has taught me to branch out and try new things. It encouraged to branch out into situations that may have may have made me uncomfortable. Specifically, I have been given the opportunity to learn more about wound care, to brainstorm ideas for new exercises to help someone with his or her impairments, and to observe a a variety of new settings that have pushed me out of my comfort zone and opened my eyes to all the valued contributions from different members of the health-care team. Therefore, this week I have been encouraged to be brave and see what the community has to offer.

Week 3:

This past week, I had the opportunity to be in a few new departments and word that continually popped in my head this week across the different departments was “laugh.” One of the departments I was in was the local dental clinic. When I was in the clinic, one of the dental assistants said told me that it is important take time to smile and laugh and enjoy what you do.” Since hearing these words, I have been reminded of the truth these words hold. Whether I am working with pediatric patients in physical therapy clinic or listening to a story from a patient in the acute care, it is important to take the time to be present in the moment, to smile, and to laugh, and to not become wrapped up in the routine and busyness of a day. One of the many things that I am appreciating about being in the rural community is the pace; a pace that allows me to be a helping hand through my services while also being able to listen to a story and simply laugh.

Week 4: During my final week of the REHPS program, the word that continues to surface is “share.” I have learned so much during my experience, and to say that I enjoyed my time living in the Platte community would be a huge understatement. I was able to work with so many valued members of the health care team, and I plan to share what I have learned with my classmates, professors, and other health professionals. This week a few of the things that I was able to do was venture to a Hutterite colony, follow a physician assistant in the clinic, and observe a pharmacist at a drug store. Going forward from this opportunity, there is so much that I want to share with others. I am beyond thankful to have been a part of this community.