2021 REHPS Ashton Smith

My time at the Avera St. Benedict Hospital in Parkston, SD, gave me a true perspective of rural healthcare. The staff made me feel welcome and worked to provide me with a variety of experiences and opportunities to learn. I spent most of my time in the pharmacy where I was able to pull medications, restock the pixis, bill medication orders, along with other duties of a pharmacist. I was also able to spend time in other disciplines and get a snapshot of their contribution to the healthcare team.

During my 3-week experience, I was fortunate to observe operating room procedures, chemotherapy treatment, patient rounds, and so much more. Once a week, Avera St. Benedict has a COVID shot clinic; I spent those days administering immunizations and helping the nursing staff with documentation. It was great to see Parkston advocates for the health and wellbeing of the community. I feel lucky to have been a small part of that.

The highlights of my experience were spending time with other healthcare professionals such as a nurse anesthetist (CRNA), nurse practitioner (CNP), nurse (RN), medical doctor (MD), and physical therapist (PT). It was beneficial to learn of the unique duties and strengths of each profession. During my last week of my experience, I got to spend time at Avera eCare in Sioux Falls. ECare partners with both rural and urban hospitals to provide gap coverage in patient care. This introduced me to a whole new environment of patient care that I was unaware of prior to the REHPS program.  

Rural healthcare is essential in the care of our patient population. Without rural healthcare, many patients would not have access to quality care, and the health of our population would greatly decline. Interprofessional care is the backbone in rural healthcare, so it was awesome to see that being practiced in Parkston. Everyone is able to expand their practice and get involved in areas outside of their discipline, which is a great aspect of a small setting.

All in all, the Parkston community made my stay very enjoyable; everyone was so friendly. I had fun exploring the shops on main street, going to the hot yoga studio, making friends with medical students, watching baseball, and taking evening walks around town. I have learned so much from my REHPS experience and am appreciative of my placement at such an exceptional facility and community!