Elizabeth Murray
First Week at Bowdle
This week has been full of new experiences. I have attended a few ER calls, seen a mammogram and CT scan, toured the phlebotomy lab, and experienced some of the clinic workings. Because the medication order verification is handled by an e-pharmacy located in Sioux Falls, there hasn’t been as much of a clinical aspect as I was thinking there would be. That has been OK though because of how busy I’ve been with other things. Along with working with the other staff members, I have a few projects I am working on as well. One is computerizing the drug stock inventory. Currently, each medication has it’s own sheet in a file that is used to record when drugs are added or removed from stock. While this is OK, I recognized a lack of efficiency in it so I brought it up with the pharmacist and he was more than happy to allow me to create a different system. Another project I’ll be starting this week is researching the process behind setting up e-scribing of schedule two medications. As of now, CII’s are still printed and given to the patient to bring in to their pharmacy. Setting up e-scribing would not only make it more efficient, but also help prevent any potential fraud attempts.

Luckily, I am here during the time the town has its annual celebration of “Tower Days”. I took part in just about every event going on, including the 5K, free meal at the legion hall, trivia, street dance, and the demolition derby. My favorites were probably the street dance, because I love to dance, and the demolition derby, because I’ve never been to one before.

Week Two:
Week two was solely comprised of me healing from the mean sunburn I received from sitting at the demolition derby for 7 hours. I’m just kidding of course, as that definitely wasn’t the thing I did this past week. A majority of this past week was spent on my inventory project at the hospital. I finished transferring the once paper inventory counts to the excel document and decided what my next step would be. In order to make ordering medications easier, the pharmacist I was working with decided it would be nice to have the ordering number on the excel document as well. In order to have the most up-to-date number, I decided I would just physically look at each drug on the shelf, as some of the cards were pretty old, and take an inventory count while I was at it. This may sound mundane to most, but efficiency is my middle name so completing this project makes me a happy camper. That is one of the differences I’ve noticed within rural pharmacy, in both the hospital and retail settings. The technology that can make work more efficient, with proper training, is not always there, most likely due to financial resources, or lack thereof. However, they still have a process that can be maintained with the smaller volume they experience, so it’s nice to see that the world can go on without the most up-to-date technology.

Both my partner and I enjoy riding horses, and we let our coordinator know that we would like to ride if she knew of anyone. Low and behold, a few days later she had reached out to a girl in town that was big into participating in the rodeo. On Tuesday night we ended up going out to her grandparent’s farm, saddling up some horses, and riding around their pastures for about an hour and a half. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the rain we saw off in the distance just missed us.

Friday evening was spent at Doug and Mary’s house, where they cooked me a fantastic meal. We also sat outside around their tabletop firepit for a while, chatting and making s’mores of course!

Week Three:
Week three was a short one with the fourth of July falling on Monday, which made for a quick week. On the fourth, Kristen and I traveled to Eureka to watch the fireworks on the lake. It was a wonderful time, as people all around the lake were shooting off fireworks for about 30 minutes before the town started shooting theirs off.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday comprised of continuing to work on my inventory project. On Thursday, I was also able to watch colonoscopies. While I was able to only watch a few because they made me kind of queasy, it was interesting to see one completed, allowing me to have a better picture of what goes on during the process and what the doctor looks for. Wednesday evening I helped the director of nursing count and scan each of the medications in the Pyxis, to help them get set up for bedside barcoding. This is an exciting technology addition as it will improve patient safety and medication tracking.

Thursday evening was very nice as Doug and Mary took us out to eat at Wakeside Bar and Grill, which sits right on Mina Lake. The temperature was right and the bugs weren’t bad so we were able to enjoy our dinner outside and chat.

Kristen and I were also able to travel down to Hoven on Saturday night to attend mass at Saint Anthony’s, which is a beautiful cathedral. I would like to visit each of the cathedrals in South Dakota so that was a perfect place to start!

Week Four:
The week began with a drive to Mobridge to see Finding Dory at the drive-in theater. This was my first time at a drive-in and it didn’t disappoint! The movie was great and it was fun to listen to it through my car radio.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday all comprised of finishing my inventory project for the pharmacy. It felt great to get that done, knowing I’m leaving it more efficient than when I came.

Thursday was spent out on the water with our fishing guide, Pete. Doug and Mary contacted Pete when we first arrived to set up a fishing trip and it was well worth the sunburn I got. We ended up catching a total of 17 fish, which made for a tasty and filling supper.

I have had a fantastic time here in Bowdle. Between Tower Days, horseback riding, fishing, following a PA around, watching a few mammograms, observing a colonoscopy, and many other experiences, I have a much better idea of what rural health really is. It’s forming close bonds with your co-workers and patients, because you see them outside the facility in addition to within it. It’s paying for a patient’s transportation to the clinic out of your own pocket because they don’t have enough. While my experience wasn’t as clinical as some students would have hoped for, I learned things you can’t get from a textbook and I am forever grateful for this experience because it has opened up another door for my future.