I started my experience in Redfield on June 1st. I had drove in the night before, got my key from the nurses’ station, and unpacked some of my belongings into the church parsonage house that I would be living in during my stay. My first impressions of the town were that it was small but not very different from the town I had grown up. The hospital was conveniently connected to both the clinic and the pharmacy which was another great bonus.
The first week of my experience I was able to work with both Dr. Waldner and Dr. Owens, spend a morning in the Laboratory, and experience the hospital pharmacy with Dr. Canton. Dr. Owens was a great resource to provide information on the REHPS program, the Redfield hospital, and research on disaster preparedness. Dr. Waldner is new to his position at Redfield but was born and raised there and I would say emulates perfectly what the REHPS program tries to accomplish. He was able to get into a highly prestigious residency program at Texas A and M, become chief resident, and then chose to come and serve the rural community that he interacted with in the REHPS program. Dr. Heather Canton was instrumental at helping create a schedule for us to follow while we were in Redfield. She helped reach out to different healthcare departments and form a neat and organized plan for us to do during our stay.
The Friday of the first week, Dr. Owens invited me to attend a conference with him in Sioux Falls where he would present information on an EMS campaign that he was organizing to the SDSMA. This was a great experience to hear a variety of healthcare speakers and network with a variety of South Dakota Physicians. The second week of my program work with a variety of different healthcare fields including Cardiac rehabilitation, Nurses in the clinic and hospital, Physical therapy, Coagulation clinic, CPR recertification, Endoscopes, and Dr. Waldner. I thought that watching the endoscopes being preformed was very fascinating, and it was very insightful to be able to follow the patients from the beginning of the process with the nurses through the procedure with the doctors and after the procedure with the nurses. It was also very exciting to have the opportunity to use the hospitals training manikins to refresh on our CPR skills. My RN partner, Eddie, and I would have friendly competitions while completing our training to see who could get the closest to perfect with compressions and respirations.
The third week I was able to again follow a variety of nurses and doctors in the clinic and hospital, I made a trip out to the local nursing home and assisted living facility to help check on patients, I worked with home health for a morning, and made a trip out to the South Dakota Developmental Center. It was great being able to go out to the nursing home because it gave me insight to the facilities that we were discharging a few of the patients to that I had been assisting with in the hospital. Home Health was a great way to collaborate with nurses to go to a variety of individuals homes to help organize medication and provide care. The South Dakota Developmental Center was another highlight of my experience. The pharmacist of the facility gave Eddie and I an excellent tour of the facility, invited us into the pharmacy where she showed us haw all the medications are prepared for the residents, and then allowed us to ask her a variety of questions. Unfortunately, due to COVID we were not able to interact with residents at the SDDC, but I still found the experience there to be highly informative.
Outside of the Clinical setting, Eddie and I were able to explore Redfield and interact with the community in a variety of ways during our stay. We visited a few of the local restaurants such as the American Legion for wing night, Pizza at Crystals with some of the nursing staff, dinner at Roosters with program coordinator Cherri Buffington, and Pizza with Dr. Owens on Main Street. I was able to attend a baseball game at the park where my cousins who played for Ipswich were competing against the Redfield team. I was able also to go to the pool on one of the very hot days that we were there. For our community service project, we decided to try to reach out to the youth and any parents at the pool. We made a poster inviting questions on a variety of summer healthcare topics ranging from nutrition to water safety. We were able to talk to several groups of kids and parents, and enjoyed our time interacting outside of the hospital.
I was able to learn and enhance many skills during this experience. One that I worked on was collaboration with a variety of disciplines. Eddie and I worked very closely on many of our different rotations. He was able to help show me a variety of techniques that I have not yet learned in medical school, and I was able to help him with patient interviewing. We worked together very well, and I consider myself very fortunate to have had such a great partner for this experience. I also was able to grow in confidence on my patient interviewing skills. This is something we have practiced a bit in school, but I was able to do very frequently during my experience. Both Dr. Waldner and Dr. Owens would allow me to go first into the rooms with many of my patients and gather a history and then report back to them. This was incredibly useful practice and helped increase my confidence in patient interviewing. I was also able to learn and practice a variety of hands-on skills. These ranged from placing and removing stiches, preforming and rapid strep test, removing warts, auscultation, calibrating QC on lab equipment, hands on physical exam techniques, and variety of other skills.
This experience gave me great insight on how rural healthcare functions in South Dakota. Every provider helped give me great insight on how they got to their position and advice on how I can pursue rural healthcare in my future. I loved how close the community was and how each person strives as a team to care for each patient. It was unique how versatile each provider was, and I really enjoyed how much of a variety I was able to see each day. This experience has motivated me to continue my studies and renewed my interest in rural healthcare as a great option for my future career. I am grateful to all of the individuals who made this experience possible, and I highly look forward to my future working in medicine in South Dakota.