Week 1 at  Platte
On May 31st I arrived in Platte around 3:45pm.  As I pulled into house where we were staying I was greeted by Cheri and our hosts, the Biehl family!  The Biehl family is very nice and helped me haul in my bags into our new living quarters.  After I got unpacked it was time for supper and Mari Biehl had fixed some spaghetti!  Little did she know, that is one of my favorite meals!  After super Jessica and I finished unpacking and then sat down to watch some Harry Potter on the TV, I had a feeling it was going to be a great week!

On our first day at the Platte Health Center Avera, we met with Tera, the site coordinator, and did a little paper work.  After that, she gave us a tour of the Hospital and introduced us to some of the people we would be working with for the next month.  Then she drove us around town and showed us the local businesses and where the river was at!  When she was done being our tour guide, it was time for lunch so she graciously bought us Pizza Ranch.  At about 12:30 it was time to start our experience at Platte Health Center; my first rotation was the lab.  Since I am a Medical Laboratory Science student, I was very excited for this portion of the experience.  The first thing I did in the lab was a peripheral blood smear! This is where you put a drop of blood onto a slide and you have to use another slide to smear the blood across in a nice and even motion; let’s just say it takes a lot of practice to learn how to do them perfectly, so I was very nervous having to do one right away, but it only took me a few slides to get a good one! Then we stained the slides and did a manual differential under the microscope.  In this slide I saw two basophiles, which is very exciting as a student because we have very few in our blood and we typically don’t see them when doing differentials.  I also learned how to run the CBC (Complete Blood Count) and Coagulation machines and all the computer work that goes with.  After that, I got to gram stain the QC (Quality Control) slide which had E. coli and S. aureus so the results under the microscope where gram negative rods and gram positive cocci.  I also got to set up an ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate), after this day at “work” I felt like I was back in class at SDSU!  I love being able to do “hands-on” work!

The second day I was in the lab again for the full day.  Since I started in the morning, I learned how to run QC on the Coagulation and CBC machines.  This day I also learned how to run the Chemistry machine along with the Urinalysis (UA) machine.  Along with a UA, you have to look at the spun sediment under the microscope and I found a weird shaped crystal that turned out to be a rare shape of a calcium oxalate crystal!  This crystal is found in normal blood and there was nothing wrong with the patient but it was still very cool to see something new, because you can’t see those things in a classroom.

On June 3rd it was a very busy day at the Hospital!  I started the morning in the lab again so I ran QC on the Urinalysis machine because there were a lot of patients coming into the ER and so we had a stack of urines that needed to be run.  Along with urines, there were a bunch of blood samples that also needed to be put into the Chemistry, Coagulation, and CBC machines. I proceeded to put the samples where they needed to go and started running the tests.  In the afternoon I was in the Radiology department; I didn’t know much about what the radiology department did besides X-rays but I soon found out they do a lot more!  I saw a mammogram, an ultrasound on a bladder, a CAT scan on a patient’s lungs, and I also saw an X-ray on a patients elbow.  It was very interesting to see this section in the Hospital, but I would definitely need to brush up on my anatomy if I ever wanted to pursue Radiology career.  

On Thursday I had CRP training in the morning, then in the afternoon Jessica and I worked on our community project.  On Friday I followed the Hospital Nurses around from 9am -5pm and it was a pretty quiet day so we didn’t do much besides take care of the inpatients.  Shadowing the nurses opened my eyes to see how many jobs a nurse has in a hospital setting.  Even though it was a slow day, they keep busy with other small tasks.  I am excited to spend another day with the nurses soon and see what a “busy” day is like!    

After our hours at the Hospital, Jessica and I like to walk around the town of Platte.  After our first adventure through the town, we both discovered how welcoming the town is.  As we walked downtown and around many blocks, everyone in the community would either say hi or wave as they drove by.  We also got to attend a girl’s softball game on Thursday night; the Biehl’s daughter Jaysea was playing and she won her game!  It was very apparent that the town of Platte likes to get their kids involved as it seemed like most of the town was at the game and everyone had a daughter playing!  Its times like this that make me love rural communities.  Growing up in a rural community, I always knew I wanted to return to one after I was done with college.  This program is giving me a great opportunity to see another community first hand.  Platte is a wonderful little town and I am very excited to spend another three weeks here!

Week 2
June 8th was the start of the second week and I was with the hospital nurses again.  This was a busier day than the last.  We had an ER patient come in with sharp pain running down her back so the nurses acted quickly to give the patient morphine because the patient was in a lot of pain.  It was very interesting to watch how the nurses had to work together to take care of the patient as fast as they could so they were all doing different jobs to get everything done.  Later in the day I also saw the nurses set up a stress test on a pregnant woman because she hadn’t felt the baby move in 24 hours.  Luckily the readings came out good, and the baby was reported as fine.  This was something that I never knew existed, so it was very exciting to learn about. 

The next day I was at the dental clinic; this day went by really fast!  Before this experience I had never thought about what happened at the dental clinic, because anytime that I had to personally go to the dentist I had always just closed my eyes and waited for it to be over.  I never realized how many different little tools they used.  I felt like I was watching a person remodel an old car because the tooth was like an old car that needed to have a little rust, (plaque) taken off and then built back up to look like new again!  The dental assistants stayed very busy because when they weren’t with a patient they were putting tools in the sterilizing machines and then taking them out and restocking the trays so that everything was ready for the next few patients.  I was able to look at x-rays of patients teeth and I learned how to spot cavities, fillings, and crowns!  I was really surprised at how hard it was to spot a cavity because it just looks like a dark spot on the tooth’s x-ray.  While I was there, I got to watch a basic cleaning, three fillings, and one crown.  The crown was really cool to watch because they had to make three molds of the patients tooth to make a temporary crown! The molds are then sent to Mitchell where the permanent crown will be made within two weeks.

On Wednesday morning I was shadowing physical therapy.  We worked with patients who had hip replacements and lower back pain and also a person with a knee replacement.  It was very interesting to see the wide variety of exercises that people can do to help strengthen their muscles.  I also learned how important it is for an individual to go to physical therapy because every person is different and every injury or replacement is different so everyone needs their own evaluation to determine what exercises and stretches will be the most beneficial for them.  In the afternoon I shadowed with the Planet Heart program.  This program screens patients to see if they are at risk for heart disease.  The patients have their calcium score CT, blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol and blood sugar checked.  They can also have a vascular check which screens the carotid artery for plaque, abdominal aortic for an aneurysm, and peripheral artery for disease.  The patient gets their results within a few minutes and then they sit down with an RN and discuss their results and what they can do to decrease their risk of heart disease.  This was very informational and I even learned a few things!  It is a very good program and it could very well save a person’s life!

On June 11th, we got to go visit the Grass Ranch Hutterite Colony.  I was very excited for this but also a little nervous because I had never been to a colony before so I didn’t know what to really expect.  However, it ended up being a great experience and I learned a lot!  We first started the tour by seeing their canning area and the equipment they use before winter to can food from their gardens.  Next we went up to the kitchen where a few ladies were already cooking at 9:30 am to prepare for lunch!  Then we went into their church where we learned about their sermons and that they go to church every day for 30 minutes and an hour and a half on Sundays.  It was very interesting to learn about their strong belief in Christ.  I also learned that the men and woman do not sit together at church or during meals in the dining hall.  It was most interesting to me to learn about the “government” system in the colony.  They use a hierarchy system and the minister (president) is at the top; however, everything is still voted on as a community.  They also understand that all decisions might not work but they will work through it to fix it.  I also learned that colonies typically have 150 people because when there are too many people, their “government” system might not work.  This might be because there are not enough jobs for everyone so someone will not being “pulling their weight” and that puts their system out-of-whack.  With their system, the colony members don’t really get paid because they all live like a big family.  No one owns their house because the colony owns the house, along with the belongings inside the houses.  The colony also pays for medical bills and groceries that they need.  The families never have to worry about money because as long as they do their part for the colony, everything is taken care of for them.  So when a colony starts to become larger than 150 people, they have to start discussing how to split up.  Typically families are allowed to pick one of the two ministers in the colony that they would like to stay with.  There are always two ministers in a colony, one primary minister and one secondary minister.  They also try to keep the number of people close to the same amount between the two groups.  Then the ministers basically draw straws and the short straw has to move and start a new colony.  The Grass Ranch Colony had to split from Platte Colony about 25 years ago, and now they are getting close to needing to split again.  During the tour we also saw the laundry area, and a bunch of their shops.  The colony had a repair shop for vehicles, a repair shop for farming equipment, a welding shop, a plasma cutter shop, a carpentry shop, a wood working shop, and they are building a new shop to build rafters in!  The shops were all very big and very well made and the colony men did all the labor to build them by themselves!  We were also invited to have lunch while we were there, so we got to enjoy pork chops, bean soup, and a salad.  The food was really good, and the bean soup reminded me of my grandmas! After lunch we were invited back to the minister’s house where we had coffee and the best butterscotch cookies I’ve ever had!  While we were at the house, we got to visit with the family and their kids.  It was an amazing experience and I am very glad we were able to get the opportunity!

On Friday I didn’t shadow anyone but I worked on our community project.  I interviewed one person and had them answer a few questions about the town of Platte that we will put together for a project at the end of the month.

This week we also got to explore Platte shopping!  I was very happy to get a cute little card for my fiancé that is currently deployed overseas, and I also found a lovely sign that I will display at our wedding next year!  We also found a second hand store that we didn’t realize was going to be so big! We spent an hour and a half inside the store, it would have been longer but the store closed at 5:30pm!  Jessica and I both decided that we will have to go back because we didn’t have time to look at everything!  I found two cook books in the store that are for country cooking, so I had to buy them to prepare for my married cooking days!  This week was a lot of fun because we were in the paper and most of the community now knows who we are!  I felt like a little celebrity when people would see me and say, “I saw you in the paper!”  After only two short weeks in Platte I was already noticing patients that I had saw in the clinic.  They would notice me and say hi and ask how I was doing and how I was liking Platte.  It has been a lot of fun here and I can’t believe my time is half way over!  The time is really flying by, but that must means I’m having a good time! 

Week 3

June 15th was the start of the third week; this Monday morning I was with the dietitian.  I learned that she reviews patients charts from the nursing home and notes any changes that need to happen if they are having weight gain or weight loss and also if their medication changes.  So she mostly did computer work that day, but on Tuesday I was able to listen in on a patient that was there for the Diabetic Clinic.  It was very interesting to learn about the diet a diabetic needs to follow.  Monday afternoon I shadowed the Planet Heart again, and I also shadowed Dr. Bentz in the clinic for about an hour and a half.  One thing I noticed about a small town doctor vs a big city doctor, is that the doctors seem to care a lot more about the patient.  Being in a small town you tend to know each other outside of the hospital, and I think that improves a doctor’s compassion towards a patient because you know them personally. 

On Tuesday I was at Hoffman Drug and I was shadowing the pharmacist, Mary.  This was a lot of fun for me because I had once thought about pursuing a pharmacy career so I had a little experience in the field.  I felt like I was back in my hometown working at Vilas Pharmacy.  In the afternoon I was able to shadow the Diabetic Clinic for about an hour.  I was able to perform a diabetic foot exam on a patient with the help of Dr. Bentz and this was when I also listened in on the dietitian.  After that I was shadowing in the lab again.  Since the lab had a little free time, I was able to have my blood drawn and I got to run tests on my own blood.  I was able to run a CBC with a differential, a basic metabolic panel, and a lipid panel.  All my results came back normal, so that was good!  I also got to draw one of the lab staff because I had mentioned that I had never used a butterfly needle to draw blood in school before.  It was surprisingly a lot easier than I expected!

The next day I shadowed the chiropractor Dr. Callie Houdesell.  This was a very cool experience.  Dr. Callie was telling me about how the body needs a straight spin to function properly.  I never knew you could go to the chiropractor for “wellness.”  Patients can come in for a checkup to make sure their back and neck are in line.  A patient may be experiencing headaches or sleeping problems and she can quickly help them by adjusting their back.  I also never knew that kids and babies could go to a chiropractor!  Some kids may have trouble with bed wetting, and sometimes it is a problem with the nerves in their back which are stopping the child from being able to control their bladder.  Babies typically have trouble sleeping and Dr. Callie is able to adjust babies’ necks which can help relieve pressure from their nerves that may be preventing them from sleeping.

On Thursday, June 18th, I was shadowing Dr. Bentz again.  This was a very routine day, we saw many patients that had come in for checkups.  I was also able to watch a patient get pain injections into their shoulder to help with inflammation they have. Later in the afternoon, a patient came into the ER.  This was a very different case because the patient had behavioral health issues.   The police were called to handle the matter.  So the person had to be brought into the ER to have blood drawn to check for any diseases and to receive assistance.  This was very eye opening to me, because I never thought about a case like this before and it was very interesting to see how the police and hospital staff had to work together for the safety of the patient and the staff.  This day I also shadowed in the lab a little bit and watched them blood type a patient and also screen their blood for an antibody.  Blood banking is one of my favorite classes so it was cool to see them do it in a real life setting.

On Friday we had the day off to work on our community project.  We spoke with two people that were busy that day so we set up times to speak with them on Monday.  So the rest of the day we got to do a little shopping in the town of Platte!  For a little town, Platte sure has great shopping!  I found a few more wedding decorations and a few new clothes!  It was very nice outside on Friday night so the Biehl family decided to have a camp fire and play a movie outside on the garage door!  This was a very nice way to spend the night, and it was a lot of fun!

On Saturday it was Jaysea Biehl’s birthday!  She asked her mom to make a big breakfast so we had chocolate chip, blueberry, and plain pancakes, along with scrambled eggs, bacon, and fresh fruit!  It was all very tasty!  After breakfast we went to Platte Creek!  Jaysea had gotten a kayak for her birthday so we got to take the boat and the kayaks out to the river.  I had never gone kayaking before so I was very excited and now I think I will have to buy one for myself!  The kids also went tubing; they were like Energizer bunnies and had energy all day!  At about 7:30 pm we went back to the house and had hamburgers and brats on the grill.  We also had a camp fire that night and made s’mores.  It was a very fun day!

On Sunday Jessica and I went to church in Geddes.  After church we walked around the town and saw a bunch of cool old buildings.  We also saw a group of older men who drove their old tractors into town for a Sunday drive.  This was really fun to see!  That afternoon we both took a very deserving nap!  I think we were tired from the long day on Saturday.  That night we also had a Father’s Day campfire with the Biehl family. 

It was another great week in Platte!  I cannot believe we only have a few days left!  Platte has been a very friendly town; now that we have been here for three weeks, people are starting to recognize us and always ask how things are going.  I think I was very lucky to be placed in Platte because I love the people here and I love being so close to the river!  Maybe someday Platte will be in my future! 

Week 4

The final week in Platte flew by!  Tuesday the 23rd was the only day we shadowed in the hospital.  This may have been our last official day, but it was definitely the most memorable! I started the morning with the nurses; Dr. Bentz was on the floor checking on the patients so I got to follow him and visit with the patients a bit.  After the morning rounds, we got to check on a few nursing home residents.  This was the first time we had been to the nursing home and it was a new experience for me.  Later I got to watch staples get taken out!  This was also new to me, and it was very cool to see how easy it was to take them out.  In the afternoon I was able to watch a blood transfusion.  This was very neat to watch because we had to go to the lab to pick up the blood and go through a ton of steps to confirm it was the correct blood and that it was compatible for the patient.  I had only learned about these steps in class, so I was very excited to see it happen in real life.  It wasn’t much later, that a patient had come into the hospital for detox.  This was very interesting to me because I had never thought about this side of a hospital.  Growing up on a reservation, I have seen alcoholism my whole life.  This patient had willingly come in, and it was inspiring to see the strength the patient had to want to change.  Once that patient got settled in, it wasn’t much longer when the ER had a patient come in.  This was very interesting because the patient had actually been in the clinic because due to shortness of breath for a week.  In the clinic they had an EKG done and the results were not normal.  So they quickly ordered a troponin level and the result was extremely elevated; this is a sign for a heart attack.  A CT was also ordered to look at the patients lungs and the results were also not good.  They rapidly took the patient to the ER and contacted the eER.  The patient was later flown to Sioux Falls to monitor her heart.  This was a very interesting experience.  It showed the integration of the entire hospital; starting in the clinic, the lab, radiology, ER, the nurses, eER, and AirMed.  It was definitely an experience that I will never forget! 

On Monday and the rest of the week, Jessica and I worked on our community project and our presentation for Friday.  After our presentation, we walked around the hospital and thanked everyone for everything.  The four weeks completely flew by faster that I had ever imagined.  I had such a great experience and I learned so much!  I am very grateful to have this opportunity.  I gained valuable knowledge while shadowing different professionals in the health field.  I was also very privileged to be placed in Platte!  It is a wonderful rural community that is very welcoming to all its visitors.  We stayed with the Biehl’s and they made us feel like family.  We got to work at the movie theater, go to the river, and attend several softball games!  By the end of our experience it was very hard to leave because I had grown attached to the family, the hospital staff, and the community!  Even though my time here is complete, Platte will always hold a special place in my heart!