Ashley’s Blog

Back to Students 2014

Week 1 Custer, South Dakota

On the first day in Custer, we met with Cheri and toured the facility I would be staying in. I was nervous when I first received the e-mail that said we would be staying in a senior care facility, but this place is really nice! Not only did I have a large room with my own bathroom, but the dining room has a row of windows looking out into a gorgeous view of the hills. For the first week, we followed around doctors in clinic. It was interesting to be able to see such a vast array of cases, from a common strep throat to various chronic conditions that are managed by the family practice doctors. It is really cool to see the relationship the doctors have with patients, and to experience the real feeling of community in the clinic. On Wednesday night we went for a chuck wagon ride through Custer State Park that was accompanied by a sing along and storytelling. It was kind of cheesy but super fun. We spent the weekend going on numerous different hikes from Custer to Spearfish Canyon.

Week 2

This week brought a lot of variety into our schedule. On Monday, I spent time in X-Ray and the lab. Tuesday we spent the entire day with the ambulance service (including the mandatory breakfast at the Wrangler) and even were able to help respond to a call. On Wednesday I spent some time at the optometrist in the morning, and it was really interesting to learn about and see pictures of all of the different eye conditions that can occur. Also, I finally learned how some of the machines and measuring devices for eyes work! In the afternoon I was able to spend some time in my home, the pharmacy. It was cool to see how being in a tourist town affected the workflow and types of prescriptions filled at the pharmacy. Wednesday night we went to a boot camp class at the local YMCA. It was a little rough (especially the next day, ibuprofen was needed) but it was different than our usual hikes and fun. On Thursday we left Custer for a bit to help out in the clinic in Hill City. On Friday we met with the director of WEAVE and learned about domestic abuse. It was really informational and moving to hear some personal stories. My mom came to visit this weekend, and we did touristy things like the Cosmos and Mount Rushmore. It was nice to see a piece of home and do things that I hadn’t done since I was a kid.  I don’t think I will ever get over how breathtaking the hills are and being able to get to see them every day.

Week 3
This week started out with a full day at Carson Drug on Monday. I really enjoyed my time in the retail pharmacy. Becky also joined me and it was really cool for her to see the dispensing side of medications. She said she finally understood retail now and that it’s not just about counting pills! That is one of the things I enjoy most about the REHPS program, that through seeing all of the different aspects of healthcare it really helps to nurture an appreciation and understanding.

On Tuesday we spent the morning with an Occupational Therapist who was teaching skills to children with learning disabilities. It was interesting to see the different techniques she used and how something that feels like a game to the kids can be a great learning and developmental opportunity. We spent the afternoon with a speech pathologist and watched her work with a patient who recently had a stroke as well as a young child with a speech impediment. She said rural health offers a unique opportunity in that she can usually work with a wide range of patients like she did that day, where in a larger city she might specialize in a particular area.

On Wednesday we spent time at the Regional Health nursing home examining patient charts and participating in medication destruction. On Thursday I took a trip up to Rapid City Regional Hospital and spent time with a clinical pharmacist there participating in activities such as vancomycin and warfarin dosing.

Friday morning we went to the dentist for a few hours, and in the afternoon we spent time with a physical therapist. It was interesting to learn about kinesiology tape and be able to try the therapy exercises along with the patients. On Saturday we ate at Black Hills Burger and Bun (our favorite place), took a tour of the Wildlife loop and ended the day by hiking up to the top of Harney Peak!

Week 4:
This last week is being cut short by the 4th holiday, but we still managed to fit a lot in! On Monday we went to the local rotary meeting. We were able to meet some professionals of the community and listen to a presentation on a much needed construction project to widen a highway while preserving the look of the hills and local flora. After the meeting we took a tour of Jewel cave. Although I had a glimpse with the previous ambulance call it didn’t do justice to the beautiful cave. After the cave, we decided to hike to Little Devil’s Tower and attempt to find Poet’s Table. After a couple mishaps, we found it! It was an amazing view and intriguing to read through the journals and passages left up there, and we even left a couple messages of our own.

On Tuesday we spent the day at the Hot Springs clinic, and I visited the local Shopko pharmacy for a couple hours. Overall it was a good last day with the Custer Regional Health System!