Kevin O’s Blog   Back to 2013 Students

Week 1
Redfield, South Dakota

Before embarking on my journey in Redfield, SD, I thought it would be appropriate to tell a little about myself. My name is Kevin Oliver and I just finished my first year of medical school at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. I am originally from and grew up in Aberdeen, SD. I graduated from Aberdeen Roncalli High School and later the University of South Dakota. While at USD I met my longtime girlfriend Danielle Sieck of Selby, SD. Being that Dani and I are both from northeast South Dakota, we have discussed our future at great length and agree that we would love to someday move back to this area to be close to our families and raise a family of our own.

Having grown up in the metropolis that is Aberdeen, I was very excited to see what life was like in a smaller community. Dani and I arrived in Redfield at 1 o’clock on Sunday, July 8th. After unloading what seemed to be my entire closet of clothes into my room, we went out to explore the town. We quickly realized just how much Redfield had to offer for being a “small community”. We found the local golf course, drive in theater, bike trails, and a few fishing spots around town. Later that night, Dani and I went to the movie, Epic, at the drive in theater. It was a good start to an exciting week.

Monday morning came and I met my REHPS partner, Abbie Johnson.  After a short meet and greet between Abbie and I, we got a tour of Community Memorial Hospital and Clinic. The hospital and clinic were very impressive, not only for how friendly all the staff were to us, but also because everything in the hospital and clinic was so new and up-to-date. However, before we could even get used to our surroundings, Dr. Owens quickly put us hard to work in the clinic following Andy Rische NP, Lynn Munce PA-C, Ron Wren PA-C, and himself, to see patients. The biggest difference I have noticed between the providers at Redfield compared to the other facilities, is how genuinely kind and compassionate the providers are for the health of the patients.

The time I have spent in the clinic this week has been as educational as it has been entertaining. During my first few days I had the chance to perform my first ever stitches on a live patient. Although I have had plenty of practice on pillows, oranges, and pigs feet, there is nothing like doing the real thing. In addition to placing my first stitches on a patient, I was able to see a rare infection called Fournier’s Gangrene, some physicians may only see a few cases of this in their lifetime.

My time away from the clinic has also been a blast. Abbie and I attended the Redfield 7-9th grade B team baseball game on Tuesday night. Instead of watching the game, Abbie kept bragging about her baseball skills and how amazing she is at baseball, athletics in general, and her dancing skills. So, after the game I had no choice but to pull out the baseball gloves from my car and challenge Abbie to prove her skills. Unfortunately, I was forced to eat my words, as Abbie was a much better baseball/softball player then advertised. My time in Redfield has been a great eye opening experience and I am already looking forward to my next few weeks getting to know the community better.

Week 2

I started my 2nd week in the physical therapy clinic. My experience with physical therapy prior to this was very minimal. My only actual encounter with a physical therapist of any kind was working in anatomy lab with a physical therapy student at USD. The entire experience with the physical therapist was very eye opening after just one day. For example, a person may see a physician for 15 to 30 minutes; the physician makes a diagnosis and then out the door the patient goes. Meanwhile, the physical therapist works to help rebuild that very same patient’s life day to day. I am glad I had the chance to see just how important physical therapy is to the patient, and how valuable a good physical therapist can be to a medical team.

On Wednesday I got the opportunity to work at Randall’s Pharmacy attached to the clinic and hospital. This was also my first time working in a pharmacy. Although, I have not had the option to take pharmacology yet, the pharmacists were able to teach me quite a bit about the daily running of a pharmacy. I was surprised at the difficulty pharmacies have getting payment from insurance plans and companies for medications.

Another exciting part about this week was when my girlfriend Danielle came up to visit from Sioux Falls. On Friday night we went out to eat at Terry’s Steak House with her father and I had the opportunity to share what I have done here in Redfield. Afterwards, Dani and I walked around town and watched a little bit of the amateur baseball game; the Redfield Pheasants versus Redfield Dairy Queen.

Saturday morning I worked with Abbie on our community project. If everything goes to plan, we will be doing our project Monday night at the amateur baseball game. Later in the day, Dani and I went and toured the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Depot. It was a really fun to see the history of the railroad and is a must see of anyone who comes to Redfield. We spent the rest of the day walking around Redfield and meeting many of the nice local community members.

On Sunday, Dr. Owens took Abbie, Dani, and I out fishing for a few hours with his two daughters. Unfortunately, all we caught were some sun rays. It was a nice end to another great week in Redfield.

Week 3

I started week three in the clinic and hospital lab department. This was another great opportunity to work in an area that I have never had the chance to work in. While observing in the lab, I got the chance to witness the entire lab drawing process, from the moment the blood is drawn to the various lab techniques used to get results. I had a great time working with the lab technicians and getting the chance to pick their brains about all the different lab techniques and what certain lab values may indicate. I thought I had all the tests down, until I was questioned on what lab test to order for certain patients. After that I learned pretty quickly that I still have a lot to learn. I really enjoyed my time in the lab and it was another great opportunity to work with another very valuable member of the medical team for a day.

On Tuesday night Abbie and I did our project on the West Nile virus at the Watertown versus Redfield Dairy Queen, baseball game. The adult amateur baseball games are something I found extremely fun to go to and a good way to get out in the community. I am going to throw my little advertisement in here for West Nile prevention, just in case anyone missed our presentation at the baseball game. We choose West Nile because South Dakota often has multiple cases of West Nile every year, and even deaths caused by West Nile. Some of these deaths may be preventable by doing a few simple things such as applying proper bug spray, wearing long sleeves and pants, and removing standing water in yards if possible.  Overall, we had a good turnout for our presentation, talking to over twenty-five people.

Lastly, I had the chance to follow Dr. Iwerks, a general surgeon and Dr. Chaudhary, a nephrologists this week. While following Dr. Iwerks, Abbie and I watched him run several colonoscopies while he quizzed us about the GI system. As a side note to any person every embarrassed to get a colonoscopy, the physician and staff are all very professional and their number one concern is to do their job. Later in the day I got the opportunity to follow around Dr. Chaudhary who was doing outreach work at the Redfield Clinic. What made this opportunity so unique is that I had actually met Dr. Chaudhary before. While working out in high school at the Aberdeen YMCA six years ago, I was talking to a friend about trying to follow different physicians. I somehow got introduced to Dr. Chaudhary at the YMCA and joked with him that hopefully I would see him again as a medical student in the future. It was a pleasant surprise for both of us that we would actually meet again like we had joked six years ago.

Week 4

For my last blog I thought it would be appropriate to write about my entire experience in Redfield and thank those individuals who really made my time here enjoyable. I would like to start with thanking Holly, the nighttime housekeeper. It was great to be done with work and chat with someone about what is going on in Redfield. Also, a special thanks goes to physician assistant Ron Wren, for letting me take out and put in stitches on a patient for the first time. I also appreciated my time with Dr. Kleinberg; he constantly challenged me to expand my clinical thinking and medical knowledge by quizzing me throughout the day. Next, I would like to thank everyone who worked in the hospital kitchens; they were always providing Abbie and me with plenty of food, even when we came late to dinner. In addition, I want to acknowledge all of the nurses, especially Jen and Autumn who showed me the lighter side of medicine and how to really enjoy my time in the clinic. Lastly, and perhaps most of all, I would like to thank Dr. Owens for his organization of the REHPS program here in Redfield. The hospitality Dr. Owens offered Abbie and me while here was second to none. I personally had a great time fishing with Dr. Owens and eating over at his house.               

Now, I came into this experience not knowing what to except. Prior to my time in Redfield, I always considered Aberdeen a relatively rural area and town. After all, it is in the northeast corner of the state hours away from any other city in South or North Dakota. However, it was not until I came to Redfield that I got a sense of what a true rural South Dakota community is like.

In my first blog I talked about finding a great community where it would be fun to raise a family, and that is exactly what Redfield has to offer. What I really enjoyed about Redfield was the family friendly community feel the town had. I would often see children riding their bikes around town on their own. That is something I really enjoyed in my childhood and is something I have been looking for in a future community. In addition, I really enjoyed the baseball games, outdoor activities, museum, and drive in theater while in Redfield. My entire experience in Redfield has been great and is one that has put a very positive spin on small communities for me.