Merritt G’s Blog   Back to 2013 Students

Wagner, South Dakota
Week 1

For my first blog, I thought that I would take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Merritt Groh and I am a Physician Assistant student. I was born and raised in Sioux City Iowa and moved to Vermillion South Dakota in 2002. I still live in Vermillion with my wife who works for the University of South Dakota. I have been an EMT since 2006 and this is where I found my passion for rural medicine.

This week I had the incredible opportunity to work with Dr. Conklin. He currently lives in Texas with his family and is working in the emergency department in Wagner’s Community Medical Hospital. He is a great person and took every opportunity to teach and guide me. For this I am incredibly grateful. He challenged me to think outside of the box and think about every possible diagnose and how to test for and treat each possible diagnosis.

The week has been steady with patients who suffered from a multitude of different ailments. These ailments ranged from simple lacerations, to hypertension, to drug overdoses. Each one of these patients provided me with the chance to test my knowledge of the pathophysiology of these numerous disorders and how to diagnose and treat each ailment. I can honestly say that I learned something from each patient and will use this information to help future patients.

Dr. Conklin will finish his shift on Monday morning and I look forward to working with his replacement. I hope that everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July and I will update you again on my adventures next week.

Week 2

There is yet to be a boring moment here at the Wagner Community Clinic and Hospital. I am working with two providers in the clinic on a daily basis and work with the Emergency Room physician as well. I start working around 8:15 in the morning in the clinic but also attend to any patients that come into the emergency department. The clinic closes at 5:00 pm and I stay in the ER until about 7:00pm (when it begins to cool off outside) unless there are any patients. If possible, I then leave for a couple of hours and either fish or golf with members of the community that I meet along the way. I then return to the hospital and take ER call for the remainder of the night.

The staffs (including kitchen staff, facility workers, and all other personnel) have been amazing and have made me feel welcome and a part of the community. I cannot begin to thank everyone enough for all that they have done for me.

This week, I have been able to place two intubation tubes, start numerous IV’s, and assist in the medical decisions that have been made for numerous patients. It has been fun, exciting, and highly educational. I am very thankful for these experiences and will use what I learn from them to diagnose and treat future patients.

As well, the golf course in Pickstown (only 10-15 minutes away from Wagner) gave me a deal on a membership while I am in the area and I have been utilizing this pass whenever possible. I would like to thank the golf course and the city of Pickstown for allowing me to utilize their golf course and for also being so kind to me. These outings have provided me with the opportunity to meet a myriad of individuals from the community, an opportunity that I am grateful for. I have been able to talk with these individuals about a multitude of different topics ranging from weather, to healthcare policies, to topics that are of concern in the community. I feel that in order to be a successful healthcare clinician, having a working knowledge of what concerns the community can aide in providing appropriate medical care. This is why I prefer to work in rural communities. I can take the time to get to know my patients and understand what concerns that they may have. Healthcare is not just treating the patient and their current ailment. I believe that a holistic approach is important to the overall care of the patient and rural communities provide the perfect setting to provide such care.

Until next week,

Week 3
This week my partner (Murphy) and I had the opportunity to meet roughly 25 community members and take their blood pressure and blood sugars. It was a really good day. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet these individuals and get to know a little bit about them and to also share lunch together. I also got a kick out of watching the dynamics of the community members. We met over lunch and all of the “old” farmers sat at a table and discussed the weather and their crops, while the wives sat at another table and discussed recipes and grandchildren. I live in a smaller community and grew up visiting small communities, and from my observations, these conversations are almost always the same. It is not a bad thing. It just makes me realize how alike we all are.

In the clinic as well as in the hospital, I had the opportunity to work with a variety of providers. This allows me to learn a multitude of different things from a multitude of different providers. These learning experiences are exactly what I need in order to become the well rounded provider that I hope to become.