Today is our final day in Fayetteville, West Virginia. The past two days have been filled with putting the final touches on our group quality improvement project. We combined our data from our interviews with patients, providers and staff concerning the pulmonary rehab program into a written paper and power point presentation. We found that the majority of patients truly love and value pulmonary rehab and have greatly benefitted from it. With a decrease in their symptoms, patients can walk further, have more energy, and can do their favorite activities again. We hope with the collection of positive reviews and recommendations for improving recruitment and maintenance of the program that the two health centers are able to help many more of their patients.
For our final night in our cozy cabin, we took a break from our project to reflect on our time here. We all greatly enjoyed getting to know this area, exploring the woods and the back country roads. We enjoyed getting to know a community and being able to help improve the health of that community in our own small way. Many of us were surprised in how much history is present here, and in our own communities, and how often this history gets overlooked. The coal mining industry is ever present here. Before arriving, we took for granted where our energy came from and the lives of the people who brought it to us. By talking with patients and hearing their personal stories, we now know the effects of coal mining on this community and the nation. When the time is taken to listen to our patients, we are able to learn so much and are able to provide the holistic care we so hope to provide as nurses.
Prior to this experience, many of us were unsure of where we wanted to work in the future. By spending time in this rural community, we learned the value of rural health centers and their providers. Being immersed in the community, the providers we shadowed knew the patients’ entire families and their history. The patients trusted these providers more than we’ve ever seen in our previous urban clinical settings. These providers were like family to the patients and with this mutual caring, the providers and patients were able to work as a team to improve their health. The power of primary care was very evident in these clinics. This experience has convinced me that rural primary care is where I am meant to be, and I have a feeling some of my classmates also now know where they would like to work in the future.
As we say goodbye to the woods, the birds, and the river, we thank our preceptors and supervisors for this opportunity. Although we won’t be coming back to Atlanta with tans like our fellow classmates, we will come back with a deep appreciation for rural health care and will spread the word of the amazing things happening in the community and health centers in and surrounding Fayetteville. Thank you for a great two weeks!