My experience at Monument Health Sturgis Hospital in Sturgis, SD presented an amazing, eye-opening, and exceptionally valuable opportunity to learn more about rural healthcare! I hoped to participate in this program as I grew up in a small town and have always been interested in pursuing a career in a rural area. As I am going into the occupational therapy profession, I only have a general understanding of those I work with most often, such as physical therapy, speech-language therapy, and nursing. However, there are numerous others I was able to encounter over my four weeks that increased my awareness of their importance in ensuring the efficient operation of a rural hospital. Some of the professions we were able to meet with and learn about include: physical therapy, urgent care, market president, finance officer, clinic providers (RN, MD), pharmacy, health information, business team, director of patient care, nurse manager, medical imaging department, social services, food services, cardiac rehab, long-term care managers, Sturgis chamber office/visitor center, surgery department, lab, human resources, dietician, clinic manager, hospitalists, environmental services, plan operations, care coordinator, and supply.
One of my favorite parts of this program was being able to learn about all the moving parts that have to come together to be successful. There are so many professions that I had no comprehension of before this, but now have a greater appreciation for all of them and the responsibilities they have. Another favorite part was having the chance to meet with the Chamber Office/Visitor Center ladies who were willing to show us around the town of Sturgis, inform us of the fun activities they had going on, and most of what the town had to offer. A major element that stood out to me throughout the entire experience, was how nice and welcoming everyone was and that every single one of them expressed how great rural healthcare is and just how much they love it!
This opportunity further enhanced my awareness and respect for all those within the rural hospital system who go above and beyond their job description to deliver the best care for their patients and truly form relationships with them. Although there are both benefits and challenges to rural healthcare (which you will have in any other setting as well), the variety and possibility of things to be seen on a daily basis are almost endless! I gained more insight than I would have ever been able to typically and I am so grateful to have had the ability to participate in this program. I would highly recommend this experience for anyone interested in going into rural healthcare and wants to gain a better understanding of how essential teamwork is for success!