First Week at Chamberlain
I was so excited to finally begin my experience in Chamberlain on Monday. We began with a tour of the town, which I found to be quite bigger than I expected. The river is such a beautiful and integral part of the entire town, and is something I’m excited to have adventures on during my stay. Emily and I already tested the waters with kayaking, which was super fun! Additionally, we went to a mission trip fundraiser at Zion (a local Lutheran Church) that Cynthia, the pharmacist at the local Lewis, invited us to. We enjoyed jambalaya and good conversation with the local people of Chamberlain and also learned a lot about the origins of the two reservations near Chamberlain.
On my second day, I had the opportunity to witness a surgery, one of my main goals of this experience. It was a hysteroscopy with an ablasion. It was interesting to see the use of a scope during surgery as well as the technological advances that are present in this rural hospital. The surgery was done by Dr. Craig, the OBGYN, who I also had the privilege of shadowing all day on Friday. I am very interested in the OBGYN practice, and therefore I so enjoyed learning as much as I could about his profession and its challenges in the rural community.
One of the unique aspects present at a rural hospital is the use of visiting surgeons to provide specified care for the residents of the rural communities. Dr. Stys (a cardiologist) and Dr. Santos (a vascular surgeon) are both examples of specialized physicians that fly in once a month to provide that specialized care patients ordinarily only can get at the larger hospitals. Shadowing those physicians was fascinating and gave a great insight into the necessity of having visiting physicians come to rural towns in order to allow the residents to get access to their specialized care.
My second week in Chamberlain proved to be even more exciting than the first. First and foremost, I got to see a birth! I had the privilege of shadowing Dr. Peña, a family physician, who was an exceptional teacher and lucky for me, the physician on-call for newborns. I learned so much from him, and half way through our day we were notified that an expectant mother came in. Well sure enough, it wasn’t too much further into our day when we got the call that labor would be soon. It was overwhelming and inspiring for me to witness the birth of the little girl. Seeing first-hand the amount of people that went into the birthing process was very interesting, and the integrated teamwork it took to handle the situation was impressive. It truly helped me further comprehend the necessity for students (like me) to understand how important it is for health professionals to work together.
We also had the privilege of attending a Health Fair at Fort Thompson. There were so many booths set up promoting various healthcare-related things and the turnout amongst the tribe was great! Additionally, it was cool to see the Indian Health Services center located on that reservation, as it is an organization that Sanford Chamberlain has to work often and closely with. After the health fair, we got a tour of Fort Thompson. It is an experience I will never forget, as the level of poverty among many of the people on the reservation is quite astounding. It helped me further understand the trials and difficulties that many people growing up on the reservation have to overcome.
The final week of my time in Chamberlain seemed to be the most exciting. My favorite part was watching another birth! Dr. Craig invited me to watch a mother give birth to her sixth child, expecting her to deliver quickly. However, I ended up being in the delivery room until 3 am. The birth went much differently from the previous one I had seen, so I really appreciated witnessing such different birthing experiences. Additionally, the next day I got to be in a tubal ligation surgery. The tubal was close to postpartum, so it was not done laparoscopically and I got to physically see the fallopian tubes, which was super cool! Dr. Craig also invited us to watch a hysterectomy which was my favorite surgery I had the opportunity to see throughout my experience. The technology of laparoscopic surgery is quite amazing and I enjoyed being able to watch the procedure.
We also had the exciting opportunity to get a tour of St. Joseph’s Indian School. I was beyond impressed with how nice the campus is and it is just awesome how the entire school is supported solely on donations without any government money. The Lakota museum that is also on the school campus is an awesome sight and something I would recommend to anyone visiting the Chamberlain area.
Overall, I just want to give my sincere thanks to the entire Sanford Chamberlain staff. Throughout my experience, I learned SO much about rural healthcare and the trials they face, but also the advantages of a small community. More than anything I was beyond impressed with the capabilities of the hospital in Chamberlain, but importantly the staff. The staff has to be so versatile due to its smaller size, but they are more than capable to provide quality healthcare. My experience at Chamberlain left a positive impact on me and my outlook on working in a rural community in my future as a physician.