Week 1 at Canton

Week of June 22nd
New rotation, New town, New faces and a New experience as I began my final physician assistant rotation in Canton, SD. We were welcomed with open arms by the hospital staff as they provided us with a luncheon and a short meet/greet. The CEO of the hospital, Scott, then gave us a tour of the facility and of the wonderful town of Canton. We were then welcomed to our living quarters for the next five weeks at the house of Pastor Steve. We are very blessed that he was able to give up his basement so we could have a comfortable place to stay.

The next few days were spent in the clinic and in outreach at Beresford. We were able to observe two specialized providers as they came to provide an outreach clinic in Canton. These two specialties included: orthopedics and psychology. I was particularly interested in orthopedics with Dr. Hoversten because I will be working in that specialty following graduation. We were also lucky to meet people in the community on Tuesday, as we were invited to attend the Rotary meeting. I have lived in a small community most of my life so I am familiar with the atmosphere of small town America and Canton didn’t disappoint with the hospitality. Everyone that we met this week was very welcoming and happy to have us visit their community. 

Week 2
We are now on our 2nd week in Canton and I continue to learn the different aspects that go into our healthcare system. On Monday, we were able to visit the Keystone Treatment Center. We attended the family sessions, which was a great way to see what the families were going through and gain their perspectives on the patients’ addiction. The emotions were high as everyone talked about their concerns and expectations. We listened to a couple speakers who have gone through their own addictions and were able to overcome them and make an impact in the lives of others. Next week, we get to attend the patient sessions, which will be interesting to see their addiction through their own eyes.

We continued to observe outreach as physicians from Sioux Falls came to Canton to see patients within their specialty. I was excited to be able to help with a colonoscopy. The skill that goes into directing the scopes is amazing. In a way, it seems like you are playing a video game. It takes a lot more skill and concentration than one might think. We also teamed up with PT/OT, for an afternoon, to see how their specialty is incorporated within the healthcare system.  Dr. Petrasko, cardiologist, came to Canton to see patient for their cardiology issues. I was able to see a couple stress tests take place, which was neat because I had never seen one before.

Another fun experience was being able to attend a Kiwanis meeting in Inwood, IA. We were the guest speakers at their meeting. We talked about how the REHPS program has helped us gain a stronger perspective for the need in rural communities. We also discussed and answered questions about our individual professions. I would like to thank the Kiwanis group and community of Inwood for giving us the opportunity to speak and for the great hospitality.  

Week 3

We continue to gain a lot of experience in our 3rd week at Canton. On Monday and Tuesday we were able to shadow at Keystone again and WOW what an emotional day. Families and patients were brought together, face-to-face, to discuss each other’s feelings and many tears were shed. It was quite an eye opening experience. We were also able to meet with one of the physicians at Keystone, who happened to be an orthopedic surgeon in the past. She was able to give us information pertaining to addiction and orthopedics. A lot of orthopedic trauma cases involve addiction such as alcohol. Complications of their addiction can tie into orthopedics with injuries such as fractures, compartment syndrome, vein disruption, and infections.

On Friday, I was asked to participate in the Canton-Inwood Hospital Golf Tournament with the CEO, Scott Larson. The experience was great, as I love to golf and on top of that, the weather was perfect. Even though we were one birdie away from finishing tied for first, we played well and I had a great time. Thanks Scott for the invitation and I might have to bring a team down next year to compete in it.

Over the weekend, I stayed in town to do clinic on Saturday morning and take call over the night. During the weekend, my wife came to visit me and we were able to enjoy what the Canton area had to offer. We first went to Newton Hills and enjoyed the amazing scenery while on our first hike together. We look forward to more of those when we make our move to Rapid City. We also enjoyed the local antique businesses as well as the fine dining at the Angus Steakhouse. They steaks and tilapia were great and the service was exceptional. 

Week 4:

Well, it is the 4th and final week of our journey in Canton. I stayed pretty busy in the clinic as I shadowed Danette, Dr. Johnson, and Dr. Hennies most of the week. I was able to do a shoulder injection on a lady who was suffering from bicipital tendonitis. I think that I am getting the hang of these injections which is exciting as I will probably be doing more in the future. We were also able to shadow Dr. Hammer in both clinic and surgery. We watched Dr. Hammer perform cataract surgery on a couple of patients and then witnessed their first day post-operative in the clinic. Dealing with the eye has a lot of intrinsic details and you need to have good proprioception and control. We were able to go to the respiratory department to be a test dummy, as we performed pulmonary function tests. It was educational to see how the tests were performed and how to interpret the results.

I have grown up in a small community of 600-700 people almost my entire life. We were close enough to a bigger town where we didn’t need a hospital or clinic in the community, so to see how a rural hospital functions was quite amazing and eventful. In order for a facility to function well, a group of people need to have a team approach and that is what Canton offers. All of the employees wear many hats, as one may say. This experience in the rural community has been wonderful. The people have been very receptive to having a student and I have learned a lot from my preceptors. I want to thank everyone at the hospital and to Pastor Steve and his wife, Kathy for letting us stay at their place.