Friday, September 9, 2011

More than a Prescription

Good morning! This fine post comes from my good friend Rebekah Gebhards. Rebekah is a wife, mommy, devoted friend and PharmD. Rebekah is dedicated to her profession and to her patients and speaks eloquently of the comrade between medical professionals in our community. I consider myself lucky to have a medical team that includes Rebekah, that knows me and my family by name and not condition. Just one of the many reasons that those of us that stuck around...we're the lucky ones.

Rebekah with her husband Chris and adorable son, Gabe (2)

Growing up as a child on our family farm in rural Tarkio, there were many different career paths that I considered pursuing.  First I wanted to be a teacher just like my mom and educate future generations on the elementary school level.  Then I had a change of heart and decided that journalism was what really caught my eye after spending time in Mrs. Schmidt’s language arts class.  However looking back on my childhood experiences, it is now easy for me to see why I picked pharmacy as my profession.  As a child I can still remember the first microscope set my parents gave to me and the hours that I spent analyzing plants and insects, and the many impromptu “biology” lessons we had on our front porch when dad would bring home another animal he had found somewhere on the farm.  Science had always been my favorite subject, and I can still remember making a lighted model of the heart in 7th grade after my grandfather’s quadruple bypass heart surgery and being one of top finishers in the bridge making contest in physics.  One other particularly defining moment as well was watching my grandmother suffer through surgery and chemotherapy for breast cancer and finally coming to the realization that I wanted to do something to impact the field of medicine. 
            So off to Drake University I went, this country girl from a town that no one in the “big city” of Des Moines could pronounce to compete with students from schools 10-20 times the size of Tarkio High School.  The workload was a bit intimidating at first, but having received a solid background at THS and having learned to juggle many activities at the same time, I quickly acclimated to my new life.  Over the summers I was privileged to have the opportunity to work in rural community pharmacies, large retail chains, and city and rural hospitals.  Once I got through the basic sciences, I was captivated by the clinical aspects of my pharmacy classes and was excited about where my career might take me.  After marrying my high school sweetheart in 2003, I had one year of rotations to complete before I would receive my degree.  As many of my classmates were preparing for clinical residencies after graduation, I too thought that would be the career path I would choose.  I was the top candidate for an ambulatory care clinic residency in Des Moines through the University of Iowa working with physicians to manage patients’ cholesterol, diabetes, and anticoagulation services.  I was so excited to be embarking on this new adventure in life, but as it turned out the Lord had different plans for my family.  My husband learned of a math opening at Tarkio High School and was offered the position, a house opened up for us on one of the Gebhards’ family farms, I was offered a part-time position in Auburn with fill-in opportunities in Rock Port and Tarkio, and the funding for the residency program I was considering fell through.  After many hours of prayer and consideration, we knew the Lord was directing us back home to Atchison County.
            I am so thankful that we decided a little over 7 years ago to come back to our roots and that I get to practice pharmacy in an area that I can truly call home.  I love that when a patient walks through the door I know them by more than their medical history; each one is more than just another prescription.  The small town atmosphere fosters a more personal approach to healthcare and treatment can be individualized by being able to see the entire picture versus just a small snapshot.  We are also very blessed to be surrounded by wonderful doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, and allied healthcare professionals that are truly concerned with the individual, not just the disease being treated.  The camaraderie and commitment I have experienced amongst those in patient care in Atchison County is second to none, and it greatly benefits the health and well being of those in the communities that we serve.  Practicing as a pharmacist in our corner of Missouri is not just my job, I consider it an utmost privilege to serve a community that has had and continues to have such a great impact on my life.     

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