November 20, 2017

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Medical Practice Comes to Life in Rural Setting

Heidi Lehrke – 3rd Year Medical Student

Heidi Lehrke, third-year medical student has been with Affiliated Community Medical Centers since August 2010 and will continue her experience through July 2011.

“I am currently in my third year of medical school at Des Moines University in Iowa and am in the process of completing a medical rotation with ACMC. I really didn’t know much about ACMC before coming here, the recruiters talked to my school and I had heard some positive things from other students about ACMC in Willmar. My husband and I also wanted to explore some other locations outside of Iowa before we settle down so here I am.

At first I was nervous about coming to a smaller community. I have always seen myself in a metro location but it didn’t take long for me to adjust and let me just say that it has completely surpassed my expectations. The people at ACMC have been absolutely wonderful to work with and the physicians here are great! I often talk to my friends that took medical rotations in larger metro areas and find that they don’t get to do as much as I get to here and they don’t get to see the variety of cases that I see. I have highly recommended ACMC to my friends in medical school!

A day in the life of a medical student really depends on the rotation that I am in and what the specialty is. I spend time with patients and then communicate with the physicians to determine just what my boundaries are with each patient. I really have to be comfortable in saying “I don’t know” so that I learn as much as I can from the physicians that I am working with and to make the best choices for my patient. Some days I am lucky and get great hours and work from 9am-5pm, but other days I am up and working by 6am and might not get home until 9pm. The first two years of medical school are spent reading books so it has been very refreshing to actually get out into the hospitals and clinics.

I have come to learn that one of the real benefits of being in a rural practice is that you really get to know your patients and their family history. You see them more often and have a better picture of their overall health. As a physician, you also get to see such a wide variety of medical issues and really have to stay on top of the changes rather than specializing so much and just focusing on one area of medicine. If you are looking for a lot of diverse experiences, rural practice is definitely the way to go!

At first I was nervous about coming to a smaller community. I have always seen myself in a metro location but it didn’t take long for me to adjust and let me just say that it has completely surpassed my expectations. The people at ACMC have been absolutely wonderful to work with and the physicians here are great!

I have about one and a half years to go until I graduate from medical school and have decided that I am going to specialize in Pathology. I will be looking at about another four to five years of school for Pathology and then one or two years more for my fellowship. It’s like doing K-12 all over again in years, but I really love it so for me it is exciting as I progress into my different levels of experience and studies.

I discovered my love for Pathology when I took a Histology class in undergrad school. Then in medical school I took Pathology. I get really excited about looking at slides and learning the mechanisms of different diseases. I even bought a book of slide pictures and I plan to cut them out and paste them on a wall so I can look at them. The other thing that I like about the field of Pathology is that I have heard that it fits well for those that want more of a family lifestyle. I really don’t want to have to take a lot of call when I am done with school because someday I want to have children and being able to spend quality time with them is important to me.

When I am done with school will I choose rural or metro? I’m not sure yet. If I could find a Pathology practice opportunity in a rural location, I would choose rural for sure based on the experience I have had with ACMC. It has really opened my eyes. I thought rural medicine would be boring and have found that it is completely the opposite!”