Pat Kane on his time in Platte
I must admit that it is a little bit intimidating to move to a new community for a month without knowing a single person, but any anxiety I had was almost immediately relieved by the warm welcome I received from everyone in Platte. My week started out with a tour of the Platte medical center, the town, and the surrounding area. It was great having Shelby, a Platte native, as a fellow REHPS student to show me all the great things the area has to offer and fun things to do in my free time such as playing disc golf in the park, swimming in the new swimming pool, or going fishing or kayaking in the Missouri river. My accommodations are fantastic! I’m staying in a really nice house with Matt, who is a medical student currently doing his clinicals here. I really like being able to talk with him in the evenings about things I saw in the clinic earlier in the day.
I spent most of the week in the clinic, and I was very impressed with how well all the healthcare professionals work together and just how well they know their patients. Rather than feeling like a fly on the wall, I was happy to get involved during exams, interact with patients, and pick the brains of the providers I was following. The Platte Health Center is very nice and I really appreciate being able to eat healthy meals for free right in the attached nursing home facility. I also had the chance to sit in on a bimonthly provider meeting and hear how individual care teams are continually monitoring and striving to improve their already excellent quality metrics. In addition, I was pleased to learn how the Avera network is changing to better align provider compensation with reduced costs and improved patient outcomes.
I also had the privilege of spending half a day at Hoffman Drug Store, which was a very new experience for me. Though the afternoon ended up being extremely busy at times, everyone there handled the rush and still took the time to explain to me how everything worked, answered all my questions, and even helped me review some pharmacology. It was interesting to see things from the pharmacist’s perspective and identify ways to make physician/pharmacist/patient communications more effective to save time and ensure medications are administered how they need to be. I really had an incredible first week and I can’t wait to see what sorts of great experiences await me in the weeks to come!
After a weekend of hiking, kayaking, disc golfing, and checking out several of the area’s eating establishments, I began my second week in Platte. It was a much more diverse week in terms of who I was following and what I was doing. I was with in the lab, at the attached dental clinic, in the hospital/ER, in the nursing home, and in the clinic as well.
I had never spent any time in a hospital lab, so I really enjoyed seeing how orders came in and all the different machines that perform most of the testing. The lab was in the process of installing some new equipment, so I could appreciate how adaptable and willing to learn the technicians have to be in a small lab like Platte where they don’t have the same number of employees and level of support that one would find in larger facilities. I was really impressed with the dedication of the people who work in the lab as someone is always on call through the night in case labs are required.
Like the lab, the dental clinic was a completely new experience for me. I was really surprised with the variety of procedures I saw, including fillings, crowns, veneers, and several tooth extractions. I was forced to recall a great deal of facial anatomy while thinking about nearby nerves during some of these procedures and in discussing medical conditions that may present like dental issues and vice versa. The dedication to the Platte community was very apparent to me at the dental clinic as they worked with patients to help them afford the required dental work and stayed late to do a procedure for a patient who couldn’t fit it in his schedule at any other time.
While I never want to see anyone come in to the ER, I was grateful for the opportunity to be there when a patient came in from a motor vehicle accident. Seeing everyone working together to stabilize the patient, run tests, get images, etc. was a great experience. Platte is lucky to have Avera ECare services which was great for giving everyone their peace of mind in case things went bad (which they did not thankfully) and for helping coordinate the eventual air transfer of the patient to Sioux Falls. It was cool seeing the Sanford flight crew and watching the helicopter take off from the helipad on the roof of the hospital.
The second week really flew by and I can hardly believe my time in Platte is half done. I look forward to continuing to meet more of the wonderful people here and seeing what new things I will learn and experience in the last two weeks of REHPS.
It seems hard for me to believe I’m already done with the first three weeks of REHPS. I began the week on Monday with the physical therapists. I can’t help but think that Platte is very lucky to have such great physical therapists in the same building as the clinic and the nursing home as it is so convenient for residents and patients who get referred to PT. It is also very convenient for the students who happen to be around as it gives us the chance to see the continuity of care, more easily follow patient progress, and have additional learning opportunities. I was scheduled to be with radiology in the afternoon, but with nothing scheduled for the afternoon I was lucky to be able to spend some extra time with PT and even came back the next day (on my day off) to see a specific treatment I was curious about.
The remainder of my scheduled time for the week was in the clinic. I saw more young patients than I had in my previous clinic time, so that was a bit of a change of pace. It was fun to go through some of the milestones for childhood development, and I can see that it would be very rewarding to follow the kids and watch them grow up. I got to practice some of my clinical skills, such as administering an intramuscular vaccination and taking patient histories. I also was around to catch a small presentation from a pharmaceutical rep, which was something I have never seen before. I also got to sit in on a couple clinical visits that happened through teleconferencing. While telemedicine has certain drawbacks, it was really cool to see how it can be used very effectively to deliver quality care in rural areas where travel times can be such an issue with peoples’ busy schedules.
On Friday, Shelby and I used our free day to complete our community service project. We got testing supplies and educational information from the hospital and provided blood pressure screening and glucose testing to all the employees at Meyerink Farm Services, which is one of the largest employers in Platte. They were very kind to give us space in their break room to do the testing and give the employees some extra time away from work to get the screening done. I think it’s vitally important that healthcare professionals can engage with the community and help people see the importance of regular checkups and maintaining one’s health to prevent more serious problems down the road. Our community service project was a good reminder of this.
My last week of REHPS was bittersweet, as I had to say goodbye to so many wonderful people. It was also a short week for me, as I was out of town for a memorial service on Monday. For anyone considering doing REHPS who is concerned about scheduling conflicts, I would say that it is usually not an issue and the schedule can usually be made very flexible, so don’t worry about it!
I spent a full day at a Chiropractic office. I was a little unsure of what to expect having personally witnessed the rift that can exist between physicians and chiropractors, but it was a fantastic experience. It was refreshing to hear about the great relationship between the clinic/hospital and the Platte chiropractors and how that relationship really serves the people of Platte and the surrounding areas. I also saw how chiropractic care may be able to alleviate a number of different ailments that I had never considered in the chiropractic realm.
The rest of the week I was again with physical therapy, in the lab, working on my final presentation, and enjoying my last few days in the community. Since it was the 4th of July weekend, many people were gone already before my presentation, but I definitely appreciated getting to see the people who were able to attend before I left. To everyone I missed, I just want to say thanks for an amazing month in Platte and I hope to be back again soon!