Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rural Medicine Rotation: Welcome to Grady

I wish the sun had been shining when I took the photo accompanying this post, because things aren't nearly as bleak as they look, but this is north central Maine, it is winter, and the sun doesn't shine all the time. That doesn't seem to make a great deal of difference to the residents of this little community on the Kennebec River. Five miles away lies Skowhegan, where student housing is located in a private home. Skowhegan leads the state in maple syrup production. Fun facts about New England to know and tell.

The storm paralyzing the mid-West at this moment, gets a matter of fact greeting this far north. The closest we'll come to recognizing the weather is to show up for work tomorrow in boots and jeans instead of slacks. And forget about wearing a tie. People who aren't born here, move here because they want to live as far away from anywhere a tie might be considered normal attire.

Five miles separate the comfortable basement where I sit writing and the first floor doctor's office in the yellow Victorian above (photo). "Welcome to Grady," I said to myself yesterday morning as I walked into the waiting room. Grady is the fictional location for the film Doc Hollywood -- this was the first of many Michael J. Fox moments I think I'm going to have over the course of the next four weeks.

I mentioned Sunday I hoped eventually to have the chance to see patients, relatively speaking, on my own. Eventually came twice yesterday and was repeated as many times today. It may have been a while since I've done a physical exam, but apparently I haven't forgotten nearly as much as I feared. And nearly every day, I'm grateful for Dr. Francis and the PASS Program, as my patients reiterate something he taught and real life imitates.

A rotation like this is a gift. Seriously. How often do you get to drop into someone else's life? But that's essentially what I've done with my preceptor. This is his town and I'm a visitor. He lives here and I'm passing through. That he, his nurse, and their patients treat me as though I'm anything but just another student is pretty darned amazing, because they sure don't have to. And yet, that's exactly what they do.

(Photo copyright 2011 by the author)
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