My four weeks at the Baraboo Rural Training Track has sincerely reinforced my desire to pursue rural family medicine.  Throughout my rotation, I have had the opportunity to participate in patient care in many different environments including the clinic, medical/surgical floor, intensive care unit, emergency department, and physical therapy department.  From infants in the OB unit to elderly patients from the nearby nursing home, I saw a wide variety of patients with a broad scope of health concerns.  Each day was exciting and entirely unique, which made for a very educational experience.

Rural physicians provide care for the whole family
Throughout my rotation, I gained a better understanding of what it is like to practice medicine in a small community where everybody seems to know everyone else.   It is amazing to observe how well the physicians know many of their patients, beyond their medical history.  It was common for the physician to take care of not only the patient, but the patient’s immediate family and sometimes even distant family members.  With such strong connections with the patients, it was easy to notice the trust within the patient-doctor relationship, which ultimately becomes important when providing quality care to the patient.

At Baraboo, my schedule was very flexible depending on the needs of each day.  My scheduled clinic hours were often supplemented with hospital admissions or unexpected deliveries.  These unscheduled events gave me the chance to learn how to balance the many expectations that a family physician has.  They also were unexpected opportunities to learn about topics that I may not have been otherwise exposed to in the clinic environment.

Continuity of care leads to strong relationships between physicians and patients
In just four weeks, I had several encounters that reflected the significance of continuity of care.  I followed patients throughout their hospital stay, and later followed up with them in clinic.  I also saw patients in clinic, participated in their treatment planning, and then was present for their follow-up in clinic to see whether our treatment plan was beneficial.  In addition, I was able to see a baby on the labor and delivery unit, and later see it return to clinic to check the weight and color of the young infant.  These were all incredible opportunities that allowed me to build relationships with patients, which is an extremely valuable part of the medical field.

Although my time in Baraboo was spent predominately in the healthcare environment, I also had some time to enjoy the beauty of the rural area.  On several occasions, I headed to Devil’s Lake State Park after a long day at clinic to enjoy a scenic run and enjoy nature.  At these times, I truly got to experience the peacefulness and beauty of being in a rural area like Baraboo.

All in all, I had an extremely enjoyable and educational experience at the Baraboo Rural Training Track.  I learned more about the benefits of living and working in a small town.  Each day was very different in patients and medical issues, which allowed me to gain a wide breadth of knowledge in a very short amount of time.