Alyssa Kerkaert
First Week in Platte

What a great first week! Platte is such cute town, and I really enjoy how friendly everyone has been. When I first arrived, I was greeted by our host family who have been extremely welcoming. My partner, Shannon, and I will be staying in a very homey living area for the month. Our host family have made us some amazing home cooked meals so far!

The first day I spent touring the hospital and meeting employees. Everyone was extremely friendly! I grew up in a small town, so I expected nothing less. I spent the remainder of the day in the laboratory. I currently work as a RN, and it is nice to see other disciplines in the hospital. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the laboratory employees!

Shannon and I were able to attend the elementary school’s farm safety day! It was a fun day filled with important safety information that all rural children should be educated about. Grain bin, electricity, lawn mower, four wheeler, tractor, and livestock safety were some important topics that were discussed. The local EMT volunteers also brought in an ambulance and went over important medical equipment the children may see if they were ever involved in an accident. I think more rural schools need to have this vital education provided!

The rest of the week I spent in the clinic with a doctor and nurse practitioner. I enjoyed seeing the diverse ways to practice in healthcare! The staff in the clinic all thoroughly enjoy their jobs, and I loved working with them all. I cannot express how much it means to me that everyone has been so engaged in my learning experience. I currently work in a large hospital, so I cannot wait to learn more about rural healthcare!

Second Week
Wow, what a great week in Platte! I spent my first day back with a nurse practitioner that functioned as a hospitalist the majority of the day, but she also had clinic hours and nursing home rounds. I thoroughly enjoyed what I learned from this bright individual with many years of rural healthcare experience. She was willing to answer all of my questions regarding rural healthcare, and I became more interested in practicing rurally after our day spent together! There was never a boring moment, because she held multiple roles.  

I spent two days working with the hospital nurses. I currently work in a large hospital as a RN, so I appreciated the days spent with these hard-working nurses that acquire numerous roles in the hospital. I now understand how flexible and “generalized” these nurses have to be everyday!  Understanding their roles in the rural setting will help me become a better nurse practitioner. I was able to participate with a trauma patient in the emergency room. It was an amazing learning experience! 

Another day this week was spent with a local chiropractor. I knew absolutely nothing about this profession before this day! I enjoyed the time she spent teaching me about her profession. The time spent with this intelligent individual has opened up my eyes to the benefits of referring my patients to a chiropractor. I was surprised she worked with so many children, and I did not realize all of the potential benefits this field has to offer for patients.

My partner, Shannon, and I have discovered our common love for ice cream. Luckily Platte has several delicious ice cream shops. One night we walked to Boom’s to get a boomerang ice cream treat, but it was closed earlier than usual. We then walked over a mile to the next ice cream shop, but it was also closed! We spent hours looking for ice cream, and we eventually settled for some ice cream from the grocery store. We found out that small towns close down for big events like the spring concert going on at the school. We both couldn’t help but laugh at how far we walked to find ice cream! At least we burned off some calories in the process!

Third Week
Hello from Platte! What a great, busy, and quick week. On Monday, I was able to follow a veterinarian. It was really interesting to see how their work related to what I will do someday as a nurse practitioner. I really enjoyed seeing how similar they assess their animals like I assess my human patients. I was able to help cast a goat’s broken leg! The goat was put under conscious sedation. It was neat to see the same medications used in humans on animals. The veterinarian clinic workers were extremely helpful with my learning experience.        

The next day, I followed a dentist all day. It was great to see what they do everyday!

Another day, I was able to follow a physician’s assistant. Our appointments were filled with patients of all ages! I always enjoy my days in the rural clinic. I feel I learn the most when I am there! I also followed a dietician for a morning. I enjoyed shadowing her while she provided diabetic education to a noncompliant patient. It is great to see what other disciplines do, because it will help me in my future practice. I also was able to follow a pharmacist at the local pharmacy. I really enjoyed learning about their daily work!

I have enjoyed my time in Platte, and I cannot believe I only have one week left! This month has flown by, and I have gained so much knowledge during this experience so far. 

Fourth Week
Well, it was officially our last week here in Platte. The month seemed to fly by! Although I had a great experience, I am excited to get back into my normal routine at home.

I spent my weekend with my family at Snake Creek camping over the Memorial Day holiday. I grew up spending my weekends camping and fishing at the river here. This campground is only 10 minutes away from Platte. Camping and the river are my favorite parts about Platte.

This week I followed physical therapy for a day. Of course, the staff was friendly and helpful with my learning experience. I was able to see a patient I cared for in the hospital last week receive therapy. It was nice to see this patient’s care in an outpatient care setting.

Shannon (my partner), the Wagner REHPS students, and I were able to spend a day at a Hutterite colony. Platte has several colonies surrounding the area, so we have seen a lot of patients from the colonies during our experience. I also grew up in an area where several colonies existed, so I was excited to see what their lives are like in the colony setting. We first started off our day butchering turkeys after receiving a short tour and introduction to some colony members. Then, we were kept busy in the garden. We received a large meal for lunch along with several snacks throughout the day. Man, I was full! It was my first time eating goose, so I am glad I could experience this. We then received a tour of a large business they have on the colony! I did not realize the Hutterites loved technology so much either. We learned so much about their culture. They answered a lot of questions about what they expect from healthcare members when they go into the clinic or hospital. It was a very interesting day and I am thankful our host family set up this opportunity for us!

The last two days were filled with presentations and celebrations. I enjoyed my time here in Platte! Since I love to camp around here, I am sure I will run into some of the people I have gotten to know so well during this month. And a side note: Shannon and I love the ice cream in Platte too! Thank you for a great month Platte, SD!