Winner, South Dakota
Week 1

This week marked my third week in Winner and the first with Justin and starting the REHPS. It was also a pretty short one for Justin and me because of Memorial Day and we were also given a day off to brainstorm ideas for our community project that we will be presenting at a health fair next week. We toyed with a lot of topics, but ultimately decided on smoking cessation because of its pertinence for the community.

For the other days of my week, I spent them divided between the clinic and the hospital. My previous two weeks were spent strictly in clinic, so it was nice to add some variety and be in the hospital. I was able to follow some nurses as they mixed chemotherapy drugs, and also sat in on some treatments which was a new experience for me. I even got some much needed practice starting IV’s.

The community has been more than gracious hosts to Justin and I thus far. He and I decided to forego our evening meal at the long term care center and went to the Chinese buffet in town one evening. Afterwards, we went downtown to mingle with the locals and I think it was beyond obvious we were outsiders, but we met a ton of people. Everyone was curious to know our stories and all were more than welcoming and glad we were there. I’m excited to start week two, and see what other new experiences it has to offer!

Week 2
These weeks seem to fly by so quickly when I’m with a different department every day. Monday I spent the day in outreach clinic with Dr. Moench and his nurse. He is a cardiologist from North Central Heart in Sioux Falls, and I was really excited to work with him. I opted not to use one of my elective rotations on cardiology so to get some cardiology experience during this rotation was great.

Tuesday I spent the day with the ladies of hospice/home health which was also a new experience. It was fun to see the side of medicine that doesn’t occur in the clinic or hospital. It was also nice to visit some of the local towns as we traveled to the patients’ homes.

Wednesday and Thursday I was in the retail pharmacy downtown and the hospital pharmacy. I didn’t get as much hands on experience as I have the other days but I learned a lot and was able to get a better understanding of the world of pharmacy. I was introduced to drugs that I wasn’t familiar with and I was also able to learn more about the pricing which is an important part of medicine that isn’t necessarily taught in the classroom.

My evenings this week were spent gathering information and preparing the display board for the health fair we had on Friday. Justin’s and my topic was ‘smoking cessation,’ so along with our board we also went to the local pharmacies and had different medications on display that a patient may use to help him/her quit. It was a fun day to not only use my schooling to help educate the public, but also to mingle with different people in the community.

Week 3
Week 3 was another week full of new experiences for me. Probably my favorite thing about the REHPS program is that I get to experience different aspects of medicine that I would normally not get acquainted with during my regular physician assistant rotations. This week I had the opportunity to spend time with high risk perinatology, pediatric cardiology, and orthopedics, in addition to my regular clinic time. All of the physicians and their nurses were great during that time and very willing to teach and share their knowledge with me.

Justin and I continued to mingle with the community members and people here really are fabulous. They are all so welcoming and very glad to have us in Winner. We took an afternoon off one day this week and spent time at the community pool talking to kids about sun safety, and handed out freezies. It is hard to believe we are at the end of week 3 and nearly finished with this experience. I cannot wait for week four, and to see what it has to offer.

Week 4
I cannot believe it is the fourth and final week already! My time in Winner has gone by faster than any of my other previous rotations and I am so thankful for the opportunity to spend my time here.

On Monday I spent my morning in the long term care facility connected to the hospital. I was with one of the facility’s RNs and did some morning medication passes with her, along with the routine vitals and other screenings. I worked in a nursing home as a CNA and also passed medication for four years so a lot of what I observed was familiar territory for me. Even though I was previously familiar with everything, I still liked being able to interact with the residents and see how a different facility did things. Justin and I spent the rest of the day organizing and fine tuning our presentation for tomorrow.

Tuesday I was in the clinic for my last day with Chris the PA. He has been so amazing to work with during this time; I was sad to leave. One of the nurses talked to me as I was leaving and asked me to apply for an open midlevel position in the clinic, so who knows, maybe I will get to work with Chris again someday! Justin and I had our project presentation over the lunch hour and the number of community members that attended surprised me. There was far more than I anticipated and the feedback we received from everyone was all positive, so I am optimistic everyone enjoyed having us there as much as we enjoyed being there.

Wednesday was spent in the OR. Every time I was scheduled to be in the OR they did not have much for cases, but I did watch a colonoscopy in the morning. I already had my surgery rotation and knew it was not an interest of mine, so I was not too disappointed to spend a limited amount of time there. I used those days to spend time in other areas of interest such as the laboratory.

Thursday, our last and final day, was with Dr. Hafner who is an ophthalmologist out of Rapid City. Justin and I worked together this day and it was a great way to end our experience here. We saw all the steps that go into pre-op, intra-op, and post-op care of cataract surgeries. Linda, the outpatient nurse, let me practice starting more IV’s before the surgery, and then I would go into the OR and observe the surgery. That was such a learning experience! It was a great end to such a wonderful six weeks here, and I could not imagine working with a better group of people or having a more fulfilling experience anywhere else!