Philip Health Services hosting health professions students
John Fanta, University of South Dakota medical student from Yankton, and Michael Miller, South Dakota State University medical laboratory science student from Milbank, are following health care providers at Hans P. Peterson Memorial Hospital.
Philip joins 14 other South Dakota communities in welcoming health professions students for four weeks during the summer. Fanta and Miller started at Philip Health Services, Inc. on June 4.
Communities selected to participate in Rural Experiences for Health Professions Students (REHPS) summer experience must have populations under 13,000 residents and house a critical access hospital. The program is to bring health professions graduates to rural South Dakota and to hopefully stay there.
Each community hosts two students from different areas of healthcare. The goal is to inspire the students by the experience, due in large part to the host communities, and their professionals’ mentoring skills.
“I was exposed to the medical profession at a young age. Mom works in internal medicine,” said Fanta. I could see how she formed good relationships with patients even outside the hospital. My goal is to befriend them, and to help them in a time of need.”
“My mother is a registered nurse,” said Miller. “Dad would take us to her office and we watched her take care of people just out of surgery and help them from immediate issues to, later, dietary changes. She just thrived off of helping others. Seeing her passion helped me make this career choice.”
Fanta continued, “I didn’t necessarily explore other medical careers. This fell into place. Like my mom, why not take on a leadership role in the health team? The thought of that led me to this.”
Miller initially started out as a pre-pharmacy student. As his studies went on, “I did not see myself doing that. So, using my credits, I went on with medical laboratory science. MLS offers less distance between me and the patients.”
Philip was not their first choice for REHPS locations, but that has changed. “I remember watching the weather on the news, and Philip always popped up as the hottest place in the state. That was the only reason I knew where Philip was,” said Fanta. “It is interesting that this is a Mecca for healthcare on the prairie. It is really important to have this facility for the people here and for passersby. They can get care in a facility that offers such good care.”
“When I applied for REHPS locations I listed a bunch, but got back a list of different ones,” said Miller. “Philip? I never heard of it before. But I knew it was going to be a good program, and so far into it it’s true.”
“Everyone here is really friendly, love to say “Hi,” willing to point you in the right direction, good sense of humor,” said Fanta. “It is really good to see how everybody in a smaller facility is on the same page. All hands on deck for cooperativity; refreshing to see.”
“Jody Pease (PHSI human resources) met me when I arrived, and was warm and open, and she embodied everyone else I later met. More of a neighborhood atmosphere than a city atmosphere. Physicians and nurses have to be communicating; here it is not as possibly jumbled around as in bigger places. I can call directly to anyone,” said Miller.
The REHPS program connects interprofessional groups of students enrolled in clinical psychology, family nurse practitioner, medical, medical laboratory science, physical therapy, physician assistant, pharmacy, and social work programs at Mount Marty College, SDSU and USD. REHPS receives funding from the Office of Rural Health/South Dakota Department of Health and is managed by the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center.
Cheri Buffington, REHPS program manager, said, “When selecting a site to host REHPS students, we look for a facility interested in the education of health professions students and an understanding of how important it is to give these students a first-hand look at how rewarding a career in rural medicine can be. We are also looking for vibrant and active communities who will welcome students and hopefully entice them to return when they are finished with their education. I encourage families willing to host students for dinner or a family outing to contact the facility to make those arrangements.”