Lisa Baer
Week 1 at Parkston

May 1: May 20th, 2015. Wednesday
What an exciting first day at Avera in Parkston, SD. Emma Bye (2nd year medical student) and I got a fantastic tour of the facility by Julie. This location has TOP-NOTCH facilities and accommodations for both patients and residents. I was/am so very impressed. After the tour, Emma and I were given keys to the house that we will be staying at so we could settle in a little bit before the Coaches’ Lunch. This lunch was really cool because the purpose was to gather all the coaches in the area and educate them on the proper water consumption, supplement use, and recommended protein for their student athletes. The rest of the day was spent with a doctor at Avera. I shadowed her and was able to meet and learn about a variety of cases from pap smears to depression.

Day 2: May 21st, 2015. Thursday
Day 2 at Avera and having the best time. Today I worked with Melissa, a mental health professional here at Avera. I was able to sit in on 5-6 therapy sessions and learn more about how therapy and medical practices are integrated, especially within the rural locations. After that, I was able to follow another doctor on some of his rounds. Some of the rounds included toilet paper up a nose, and also a potentially broken hip. The doctor handled all of his cases was care and patience, which was wonderful to see. Loved it!

Day 3: May 22nd, 2015. Friday
Today I did rounds with a nurse and a doctor. I think we saw about 6-8 patients and every one was so unique with their presenting problem. Some had issues with their legs, circulation, diabetes, cancer, and/or pain/memory issues. What was really interesting to me was how kind both the doctor and the nurse were. For example, before the doctor arrived, the nurse briefly visited some of the patients and checked in with them. This was really sweet because it wasn’t a necessary step at all, but it was done so that the doctor could have a better idea of how the patient was progressing, the patient could feel like they were a priority, and so the nurse could iron out any issues.

Day 4: May 23rd, 2015, Saturday
No work

Day 5: May 24th, 2015. Sunday
No work

Day 6: May 25th, 2015. Monday
Memorial Day Holiday

Day 7: May 26th, 2015. Tuesday
It was great to get back to Avera after a long three-day weekend! My day started off with working with the mental health professional. I was able to sit in on a couple of her therapy sessions and we continued to talk about licensure and working in rural South Dakota. She’s a really amazing resource and is so reassuring when we are talking about finding jobs after I graduate. Julie stopped into Melissa’s office and told me that the Physical Therapists had a lot of scheduled events for today and were hoping I could stop by. I had never received physical therapy before, so I was really interested in seeing what they do. I was able to sit in on several appointments and learned a lot about the importance of stretching, exercising your kegels, and also wound care. I was able to do some physical therapy with an older gentleman and he had some quick reflexes!

Day 8: May 27th, 2015. Wednesday
Last night/this early morning was amazing. We got a phone call that a patient was going into labor and the mom-to-be was so awesome and she allowed both Emma and me to observe! The mom was amazing during labor and delivery and she now has a healthy, happy baby boy. After watching such an amazing event, Emma and I shadowed the Babysiter’s Clinic. I learned even more about taking care of babies (e.g., first bath, how to put on a diaper, how to feed, how to dress a baby, etc). I honestly don’t have that much prior knowledge of working with children, so I feel like I’ve definitely caught up today after watching the birth of a baby boy and learning about how to care for them! After Babysitter’s Club, Emma and I got our hearing tested by Physical Therapists. I am proud to say that I have perfect hearing!

Day 9: May 28th, 2015. Thursday
Today we had training in Mitchell for the research that we are conducting in Parkston, SD. I had never done a teleconference before so this was a fun experience for me. Unfortunately, Emma and I got lost, but people in South Dakota are always willing to give you extensive directions, so we found it eventually.  It was nice to get solid direction on what’s expected from us and also reassuring for us to know exactly what we need to do. After the conference, Emma and I explored Mitchell, got a nice lunch, and went to the Corn Palace. It’s nice to explore the nearby rural areas in addition to Parkston.


Day 10: May 29th, 2015: Friday
Happy Friday! It was a rainy and cold-ish day in Parkston….the perfect day for relaxing on the couch and reading a book, but instead I was shadowing physical therapists, which was even better. I even got a massage from a PT- she was showing my some of the new massage tools they have to help reduce down the quantity and intensity of knots in a person’s back and side and it turns out that I have a lot of really intense knots. My back was SO bruised and sore but it was awesome to see what it’s like to a patient getting some physical therapy.

Week 3
Day 13: June 1st, 2015: Monday
Swallow study was today!! That was really interesting because we got to see how the throat and various aspects of swallowing work together to bring nutrients to the body while avoiding getting food into your lungs. I got to taste barium, which was kind of interesting and sweet but left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. I thought one of the most interesting things was that there were so many different types of liquids (e.g., thick, syrupy, thin) and the patient didn’t respond to the drinks in the typical manner that is expected. After that, I was able to sit in on a therapy session for a younger child. I think I’ve talked about this before, but right now I only have experience in working with students and adults, so I’ve really enjoyed observing children and the elderly in sessions. After that, I worked through some assessments and learned more about how paperwork is filed in Avera (they have a really awesome progress/intake note format).

Day 14: June 2nd, 2015: Tuesday
Got to observe a C-section today! I’ve seen a baby being born now both ways, and I’m kind of upset that there’s not a less traumatizing way to have a baby. The doctors and nurses here are simply amazing when it comes to taking care of both the momma and the baby, but for me…no matter the method, the process of labor is exhausting and looks painful. I am horribly needle-phobic and I wanted to run from the room when the doctor was giving the patient the epidural. The mom was a real trooper and so was that baby. I left the OR and stopped in to see the baby and some of the procedures that they use on babies after they were born. She was just the cutest. After watching the C-Section, Emma and I grabbed a cup of coffee and some bacon and talked about the process. Emma is a registered nurse and a med student so it was great to chat with her after and ask her questions about everything that I saw. I know I’m lucky to have her because she’s so levelheaded and really normalizes the experience.

After that, I went and sat in with Melissa Gale and helped her wrap up the Wellness Project that she had conducted earlier in the day. I helped her to compute some basic statistics for the company so they could have a better idea of what their employees are doing in regards to healthy eating and living habits and then compiled the results and put them in an envelope so the employees could have a better understanding of what their results were.

After that, I learned about some assessments and actually took a couple of them myself. That was fun because it’s a big part of clinical psychology and using various methods of assessment to come to a working hypothesis about a client. After that, Melissa ran the monthly Diabetic Support Group, which was a lot of fun. I love to see group dynamics come out of the woodwork and to see people work to help others with their problems. Emma and I both watched this together, and I love to see her excitement about group therapy! This is something I had been previously exposed to from my graduate school program, so it really made me smile and appreciate both my training and the support group even more.

Day 15: June 3rd, 2015: Wednesday
Today Emma and I went to “Our Home” which is a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility here in Parkston, SD. Emma and I shadowed Dr. Honke during treatment plan scheduling. There are around 35 youth and adolescents in Our Home and their treatment plan is reviewed periodically to ensure that the residents are meeting their goals, and that they are being provided for in a holistic manner. It was great to sit in on, especially from a clinical psychology standpoint, but it was also great to hear about other’s viewpoints on how to better take care of the resident. The resident was also present during this review, and it was a collaboration between the board and the resident to make sure that everything was going smoothly, or if changes needed to be made. After visiting Our Home, Emma and I went to a lunch about new insulin that is administered via an inhaler! Not only was the lunch great, but the topic was pretty interesting too. Emma and I just got back from visiting a school district in Parkston, SD for our community project and now we are working on gathering data as a way to end the day. Tomorrow we will be going to a few colonies and also to see the Amish, so we are both SO excited about that!

Day 16: June 4th, 2015: Thursday
Today was one of the best days yet (but it’s a close call- we’ve had so many amazing days). Kerri (a RN), Emma, and I went to some Hutterite colonies in the morning. Kerri seriously knows everything about the Hutterite colonies and is great at explaining what their values are, how they operate, and some of the differences between each colony. She mentioned that when she first started it was easy for her to say “Oh, well, all the colonies are the same” but now that she’s worked there for awhile she said to us that each colony is SO different from another and she really wanted us to see and understand the unique differences. Kerri also was amazing at explaining how Avera has really stepped up and looked at the big picture when caring for the Hutterite colonies….Avera isn’t worried about the little costs (like having Kerri take visits to see them) because building rapport and establishing a relationship is SO important to both the Hutterite colonies and to Avera. It’s great to see a company really put the patient first and understand that these colonies, although so very different and unique from each other, really are busy and driving to Parkston to get their blood drawn/blood pressure checked/vaccines is a big ordeal and it might be better for everyone if Kerri goes to see them instead. Everyone at the colonies were so generous, nice, kind, and warm. I’m amazed at all they do and everything that they stand for. After visiting the colonies, Emma and I had lunch and then we went downtown to a small bakery and talked with the woman who runs the shop. I love this aspect of our time here in Parkston…it’s so fun to experience everything that Parkston has to offer and not just Avera. Avera is amazing and the people are phenomenal, but I love learning more about the people who live in Parkston, too.

Day 17: June 5th, 2015: Friday
We went back to the colony today! Today Melissa, Kerri, Emma, and I ran an Exercise class there. We had 6-7 women and we took their blood pressure and weight (no one wanted to get their weight taken—totally understandable J ) and after that we went through exercises that they could use with exercise bands. Gotta tell you, some of those exercises were really tough for me and my little arms were shaking, hahaha. Melissa was so nice and let me have a band so I can keep up the exercises later. It was so fun though because some of the women were AMAZING at the exercises that I was struggling with. After visiting the colonies, I kept working on the REHPS presentation and the paper summary for the REHPS program…hard to believe that our time ends next Friday! L

Day 18: June 6th, 2015: Saturday
5k today! Emma and I did a Cancer Walk this Saturday with Avera. We showed up bright and early at 8:00 and started walking around 8:30. Even though it was just a 5k, it was humid outside and I was struggling toward the end. Emma kept a really good pace though, so I tried to match hers to keep up and stay motivated. Goes to show you how much more I need to work out and watch what I eat! But everyone who participated in the walk had a great attitude and I just felt like the whole event was a lot of fun. I liked walking all around Parkston and seeing more of the beautiful homes and landscape. I didn’t know the people behind me but they interacted with us without a problem and were genuinely curious about what we were up to in Parkston. After finishing up the 5k, Emma and I had a free donut (yes!!!) and a banana to reward our efforts. It’s nice to get some exercise in so early and then be able to eat what you want later.

Day 19: June 7th, 2015: Sunday
There was a big Kickball tournament today! It started at 1:00, but Emma and I were asked to show up at noon. Well, right when I was about to leave, a cop car shows up at the house that I am staying at and tells us that a helicopter is coming and we need to move our cars so the helicopter can land! So crazy…but so cool that a patient is about to be transferred via the coolest ride ever to a different hospital. It sounded like a lawnmower but the trees were shaking like tornado winds were coming through. After the helicopter, Emma and I went and did concessions for the tournament. I really lucked out and was allowed to just sell food- I have a huge hatred/phobia of balls (volleyballs, kickball, tennis balls, etc.) but everyone was really understanding. I met a lot of people and had an amazing time. It didn’t end till around 6:30, but it was a lot of fun to make hot dogs, nachos while working with both Emma and Melissa’s awesome daughter.

Week 4

Day 20: June 8th, 2015: Monday

Water aerobics in the morning and then lab in the afternoon. Then I went to listen to a therapy session and talked with Melissa about clients and suicide risk assessment, which is my area of weakness. After work, Emma and I went to dinner at Rita’s house and had a wonderful time! Everyone at Avera is just so nice and welcoming.

Day 21: June 9th, 2015: Tuesday

Today I woke up at 4:45 to meet up with Melissa, Emma, Kerri, Karen, and a couple of other nurses to do a Wellness Screening at a couple of different agricultural companies in Parkston. Waking up that early was pretty painful, but then Emma and I went to The Donut Shop and it was AMAZING. Holy cow, Emma and I were over the moon with our coffee and donuts. After screening a few individuals in one company, we went to another company for nearly a dozen health screenings. At that company, Emma and I conducted a study for the wellness initiative. During that time, the rest of the group left to take stuff back, so Emma and I wandered around the store and checked out the merchandise while we waited to be picked up. After waiting for a little while we decided that maybe we should just walk back…but that walk was a little bit longer than we were expecting! Karen came to our rescue and picked us up. After being rescued we went to Taco Tuesday and enjoyed nachos with Kerri, Melissa, and Julie. After Taco Tuesday, I went to the Diabetic Support Group and enjoyed a great piece of low-carb, low-sugar carrot cake. After that I went and worked out and worked on our final presentation.  

Day 22: June 10th, 2015: Wednesday

Water aerobics today! Ember, a Physical Therapist, leads a water aerobics class every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Emma and I had participated in water aerobics on Monday, and the women enrolled in the class asked us if we were going to come back today. The group of women were so nice and supportive and it’s great to be around their positivity and relaxed nature. It was a great way to start the day! After water aerobics, Emma and I grabbed lunch and then hit the road with Kerri, Meredith, and Julie to go visit the Amish and also Delmont. Emma, Julie, and Meredith bought some gorgeous rugs from the Amish and I got my picture next to an Amish buggy. I have to say, I love my A/C and I don’t know how long I would last if I was Amish. I am really respectful of their lifestyle and I think that they are amazingly strong individuals; I’m just also very aware of how much I LOVE modern day comforts. After visiting a couple of Amish communities, we drove through Delmont. Delmont had a tornado go through it about a month ago and it was horrifying and fascinating to see the destruction. Some houses were just perfect and untouched, while others had every window smashed and were completely destroyed. Tornados are not something that I really ever thought about while living in GA, but it’s definitely something I think about a lot more ever since I moved up to South Dakota!

Day 23: June 11th, 2015: Thursday

What a fun day today! This morning Emma and I grabbed an AWESOME donut and coffee from the donut shop and then I worked on some final details for our PowerPoint presentation tomorrow. Hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day. I stopped my Melissa’s office and read some of the manual for a few of the assessments that she uses for her patients and then it was time for lunch! After lunch, Melissa was called to complete a suicide risk assessment and I was able to shadow.

Day 24: June 12th, 2015: Friday

Final day today…. L Emma and I presented to the faculty and staff about the adventures and fun that we have had while in Parkston. After presenting we helped with Speech Camp and had a lot of fun with little kids. It’s so amazing to think back about all that we have seen and learned from and how much we have grown in just 3.5 weeks…Huge thank you to Parkston and Avera St. Benedict and all the amazing people who work there.