Students gaining insights

A CHANCE TO LEARN — Medical students, from left, Monica Ngo, Elizabeth Kim and Whitney Johnson with Elijah Germo (not pictured) recently shadowed staff at Mayo-Fairmont as part of a summer internship program.

Four University of Minnesota medical students opted for an elective course that allowed them to spend two weeks at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont.

The Summer Internship in Medicine program allows the students to shadow health care professionals in various roles while experiencing life in a rural community.

Whitney Johnson and Monica Ngo have completed their two-week internship. Elizabeth Kim is in the middle of hers, and Elijah Germo is scheduled to start this week. The classmates all have completed their first year of medical school at the Twin Cities campus.

The program was eye-opening to all the students, especially for Kim, who had the chance to watch her father, Fairmont surgeon Dr. Hyun Kim, in the operating room and develop a new appreciation for his job.

“It was actually the first procedure I’ve ever seen. I was really cool to be able to watch my dad,” she said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve driven past this hospital, but I’ve spent very little time inside. These first few days have been really interesting, seeing how everybody works together and the teamwork between the different providers. It’s a very different perspective to be on the inside versus waiting in the parking lot for my dad to get done.”

“Up in the Cities, there’s other students. There’s residents. There are all these people in a room, and you feel like you’re only a small part of it,” said Johnson, who stayed with her grandparents, Jim and Lynne Heusser of Fairmont. “Here, it’s really been surprising how much one-on-one attention we’ve gotten from the physicians. They have really taken the time to sit down with us and educate us about the things that we’re doing and seeing.”

Johnson said the nursing staff and technicians also provided valuable instruction, like the operating room nurses who taught her how to scrub properly before surgery, how to set up for a procedure and how the procedure was going to be run.

“They really took a lot of time to make sure I was learning, not just seeing,” she said.

Ngo, who stayed with Darla Nelson-Philipp and the Kim family, also was impressed with the teamwork at Fairmont Mayo.

“That is something that surprised me. Because it’s such a small clinic, all the providers know one another,” she said. “In the Cities, you might not know the other people or the nuances of how they work. The relationships and the continuity of care we saw here does affect the care that is provided to the patients.”

“When you think about the objectives of this program, therein lies our interest — to showcase what is the strength of a small community hospital,” said Amy Long, administrator at Fairmont Mayo.

Long said Mayo-Fairmont opted to participate in the program after its coordinator reached out to her. Initial plans were to support two students, but when four applicants requested Fairmont, it was decided to accept all four.

“Our hope is that our students have a good experience, that they’ll talk to the students coming up behind them and tell them to put Fairmont down as a choice,” Long said.

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