October 23, 2018

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Medical Student Allison Homstad Putting Her Education to Practice at ACMC

Third-Year Medical Student Allison Homstad with ACMC-Marshall pediatrician Dr. Atul MishraIt was a normal afternoon in 2005 working at the hospice care facility for Allison Homstad. It was summer break between her sophomore and junior year in high school. She was happily baking cookies when one of the residents came into the kitchen and sat down. Allison tried making small talk with him, but despite her best efforts, he didn’t seem to want to talk. But when she sat down with him, he suddenly reached out and grabbed her hand. She realized all he wanted in that moment was a human connection.

An Interest in Family Medicine

That human connection is what led Allison, now a third-year medical student at Des Moines University and on rotations at ACMC, to family medicine. That and knowing that although she loves all kinds of medicine, she couldn’t see herself choosing just one area.

“I love the variety of family medicine. In any given day, I can treat someone for a sprained ankle or see a patient with diabetes or heart disease. In the next appointment, I can meet with a pregnant mom or see a new baby for his first well-child visit,” Allison said. “What I love the most about becoming a family medicine doctor is that you become a real person to your patients; you are able to make a connection with them. You can be more than just a doctor to your patients.”

Allison is spending nine months at Affiliated Community Medical Centers – first in Marshall and, after the New Year, in Willmar.

“I’m really enjoying my time at ACMC. It’s a chance to put my medical education into practice, and I’m realizing just how easy it is to apply my experience with osteopathy into a family medicine practice,” Allison said.

As a student at DMU, Allison is required to complete more than 200 hours of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM); most medical students only complete 40. Osteopathy is a type of medicine that focuses on the person as a whole, stressing preventive care and treating all aspects of the individual’s health. During their education, osteopathic physicians learn osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), a form of osteopathy that centers on the musculoskeletal system. Problems with bony alignment, muscle tension and tissue abnormalities can negatively affect the body’s ability to function. Baecause the body functions as a whole, if something is out of alignment it can cause problems with your health. For example, someone with lower back pain may find they have trouble with their hips. But Allison can help fix the back pain using OMM, which in turn can alleviate the hip pain.

She’s so interested in OMM that she applied for and received a fellowship in it. After Allison completes her fourth year of medical school at DMU, she’ll complete a fifth year where she spends mornings in clinic with her professors seeing patients and developing their treatment plans. In her afternoons she’ll be giving lectures, leading labs, administering exams and helping with other OMM events on campus. So it’s exciting for her to put her knowledge of OMM to use while she sees patients accompanied by the doctors she’s training with at ACMC.

Training at ACMC

“Being in an exam room is fun for me, and it has been a really good experience to be able to apply my skills to help my patients. Every time I help a patient feel better, especially when I get to use OMM, it’s really rewarding,” she said. “And right now I’m still in medical school. I’m getting to do things my counterparts at larger hospitals and clinics would never dream of getting the chance to do at this stage in their medical education.”

As Allison continues to work with doctors at ACMC, she’s excited to take in as much as she can.

“There is a lot of stuff I don’t know, but I’m learning. I’m getting my feet wet interacting with patients. I’m seeing some really interesting things across different specialties. I’m also absorbing how the doctors interact with their patients. I want to do as much as possible, experience everything that I can and get practice doing a lot of different things during my time here—and I only have nine months at ACMC to do it,” Allison said. “I’m excited for what’s to come right while here at ACMC and after I leave as I continue to work toward becoming Dr. Allison Homstad.”

Like that day long ago when she was working in the hospice care kitchen, Allison is continuing to make those human connections that will help her become the kind of doctor she’s always hoped to be.