Spring in Soldotna

I just spent a month in wonderful Soldotna, AK and highly recommend it for anyone considering a WWAMI month. It’s great opportunity to experience rural medicine at it’s finest. Over half of the attendings are UW graduates and display a range of practice styles that are all top notch. An average day entails arriving at the hospital at 7:00 or 7:30 depending on the day for one of various conferences/meetings. The rest of the morning was spent rounding on patients. I had anywhere from 1-4 at any time that represented some of the more interesting admits from the previous night or during the day. There’s a different attending on call each day and I checked in with them throughout the day to see if there were any new admits.

If not admitting patients, I spent the afternoons helping see patients in the clinic. I had the chance to help read echos and perform endoscopies throughout the day as well. This is one of the coolest things about practicing in a small community. Without a cardiologist or gastroenterolgist in Soldotna, the generalist have trained to do these procedures themselves. This also meant that for consults, patients at times have to be airlifted to Anchorage. If that happens, I highly recommend talking with the flight nurses and pilot about accompanying your patient in flight to see the transport process first hand. The helicopter sits just outside the ED and as it lifts off, you have an incredible aerial view of the Kenai Peninsula en route to Anchorage.

Aside from work, there is plenty of time to enjoy all that Alaska has to offer. I was on call only one weekend, but had the rest of the weekends and all evenings free to explore The Wilderness. There are two fishing villages: Homer and Seward that are magical and only 2 or so hours away. Spend your weekend evenings at a bed and breakfast and your days exploring the water for whales, sea otters, and shorebirds in a kayak or on a boat tour. If you’re here during the Spring you might be invited to watch Dr. Kelly, a commercial fisherman in his other life, unload his latest catch of halibut. Dr. Bramante, a dog musher in his other life, will introduce you to his 30 dogs and take you on a run with them. The attendings here really embrace the work hard play hard mentality and their passion for both is infectious! Come and see.

ANMC Anchorage 5/09

My name is Adam Corson and I was an R3 when I did my WWAMI month at Alaska Native Medical Center in 5/09.  This is a hospitalist rotation.  The town of anchorage has all the resources you need, but is somewhat laking in character/things to do.  Once outside of Anchorage, however, there is more outdoors things to do than you can handle.  Outside of the city is absolutely beautiful.  While I was here I went to Denali National Park and Seward, both of which had scenic drives and were well worth the trip.  I would recommend doing the rotation between March and October if not May to Sept.  It does not get dark until 11pm and high most days was 60-70 degrees in May.  This made outdoor activities very doable.  In the winter it is cold (-20) and dark (4 hours of daylight).   You routinely see moose wandering around and if you are lucky you can see a bear or a lynx.

The hospital itself is a good facility and the patient population is different from that seen in Seattle.  Alcohol abuse permeates this population.  I had never seen a case of dilated cardiomyopathy prior to this rotation and I saw at least 10 while I was here.  The attendings are good to work with, just try and stay away from the locums people (they will assign you a different attending every week, so this will probably be out of your hands).  I realize these people will change by the time someone else visits, but the permanent guys are all solid.  You carry 5-7 patients per day, 1-2 in the unit.  Hours are 8:30 to 4pm most days, weekends off.  I would flip around your schedule so you can get 3 or more days off in a row to travel around.  You also get to do EGDs, as all of these are performed by the hospitalists.

All in all a great rotation.  Not enough free food though.