2018 REHPS Shannon Backer

I chose to participate in the REHPS program because I wanted to experience working in a rural healthcare center.  My time in Britton, South Dakota has given me that and so much more.  I am a medical laboratory science student so the lab was my main focus.  The staff from the lab as well as the whole hospital made me feel at home which was great because I was going into a situation where I knew exactly zero people in Britton before arriving.  The healthcare center has a policy called WOW which translates into ‘Warmest of Welcomes’.  That means that everyone that walks into the building, even a fellow coworker, is a guest and you are to treat them as such.  I felt that the community of Britton were just as welcoming as the healthcare center staff.  If I ever needed directions, people would jump at the opportunity to help me.  Within the first week I was bombarded with suggestions for places to go to eat; a town after my heart. This included having wings at Eden, Chinese at Havana, and steaks at Todd’s Tavern in Amherst.

At the Marshall County Healthcare Center I shadowed almost every department of the facility.  As previously stated, the lab was my main focus.  However, when working in any sort of healthcare system it is important to understand how everyone works together to help a patient.  From shadowing/questioning the business and clinic offices of the hospital, I learned that it is the receptionist’s job to ensure that the patient has been registered.  They help to schedule appointments and see that the patient’s paperwork is in order.  The other members of the business office team deal with insurance companies to determine what tests and diagnoses are covered by certain insurance companies.  They also do the coding for the facility and act as a filter to catch any flaws in a patient’s file.  They also take care of finances for the facility and determine what it takes to keep the company going.  From following around nurses and a nurse practitioner I was able to fit together the entire process of finding out a patient’s symptoms, to ordering tests to be done, to finding out the lab results and how to interpret them to properly diagnose and treat the patient.  From shadowing at the nursing home in town I discovered what it really took to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.  I got the chance to observe nurses do training in a simulation truck and was extremely impressed on how quickly they jumped into action once given the situation.  I had the opportunity to participate in a day of Emotional intelligence training at the hospital in which I learned how to better handle stress and understand my own emotions as well as others’.  From spending time with the home health nurse I discovered how great a relationship could be between a provider and a patient.  I got to meet some very inspirational people and hear some fantastic stories.  I got to follow the local Pharmacist and I learned a little about some drugs/medication and a lot about how pharmacy works in a small town.  The relationship built between the pharmacist and the citizens of the town is advantageous to the pharmacist’s job and the patient’s well being.  From shadowing the radiology staff I discovered how different peoples’ anatomy can be.  Several different positions had to be used in order to get the same picture from different individuals.  In occupational therapy I was introduced to a computer system that helped several individuals that suffered from a variety of problems varying from brain injuries to children with problems focusing in school.  With the community health nurse we had the opportunity to go to a Hutterite colony and view their way of life (Side note: they make delicious jam).  With the human resources department I was informed how the hiring process is done, as well as how the employees are evaluated throughout their employment.  I was introduced to electrodes with physical therapy and I discovered that there are ultra sounds other than those that let you see your unborn child.  I also observed the techniques used to massage sore muscles.  Physical therapists definitely get a workout.  As do people that work in central supply.  They have to pick up all the boxes of supplies that come in for the hospital, sort them out, and determine when to order more when necessary.  This job takes a very organized person to keep track of all the supplies that go to all departments of the hospital.  I already knew a bit of what to expect from the lab, but it was cool to see all the machines in action and it was definitely exciting to participate in daily lab duties and actually put all the things that I have learned in school to use.

Involvement in the community was a big part of my stay in Britton.  I got the chance to attend several meetings in order to better understand the atmosphere of the town.  I attended a volunteer fire department meeting and learned more about what it meant to be a volunteer firefighter.  I also attended a weightwatchers meeting and learned some tips about living a happy and healthy life.  I also volunteered in the community by running baseball concessions and helping out at the local food pantry.  Britton and the surrounding areas had a lot to do.  One night during my second week there was a free movie held at the theater in honor of a local pastor that I went to.  Main street of Britton is home to an array of businesses including a gift shop and a local coffee place that the locals rave about.  There are also several nature areas around Britton.  These include a multitude of fishing lakes and state parks such as Roy Lake State Park and Sica Hollow State Park.  Along with these I also ventured to Fort Sisseton State Park and Nicolette Tower in Sisseton.

Overall my experience in Britton was excellent and the people here were welcoming and incredibly kind.  I am extremely grateful for the generosity of the community and the healthcare center staff.  If given the chance, I would definitely participate in REHPS again.