August in Soldotna


I spent mid August through early September in Soldotna.  My wife, Tiffany (pediatrics), joined me to work in Katy Sheradon’s Family Practice during that time.  I think plenty has been said about the quality of the rotation, but I’ll add my perspective.  John Bramante is the main doc with whom residents work.  He is in a practice with ~5 other docs called Peninsula Internal Medicine.  They are a private practice across the street from the hospital, but also provide hospitalist coverage.  During my month, that actually stopped, as the hospital hired some hospitalists, but things may change again.  I spent 3 weeks mostly in clinic.  I worked closely with John Bramante and also Bill Kelley.  They are both excellent docs (UW and UCSF trained, respectively) and do a surprising amount of speciality care (cardiac stress tests, EGDs, colonoscopies, HCV treatment, chemotherapy, rheumatology).  Their patients were also quite interesting and wonderful to treat.  I spent one week working as a hospitalist as well. 

The most memorable part of the month was my time away from work.  There is quite a bit to do in the area, particularly if you like the outdoors.  August on the Kenai Peninsula is popular with many of the locals, as the weather is still nice but the tourists are gone.  By the end of my month, fall was in full swing (with a pretty brilliant color change).  I went out fishing with Bill Kelley on various stretches of the Kenai on multiple occasions.  He took me drift boat fishing down the upper Kenai for rainbow trout, where we saw several brown bear fishing from the shores.  We also fished the lower river for silver salmon and trolled the middle river/Skilak lake for rainbows.  I have been to a lot of rivers and this one is one of the most beautiful anywhere.  The fishing is also excellent, if that’s your thing. 

On weekends, Tiff and I did a lot of the usual trips to Homer and Seward.  Homer is a quirky town SW on Soldotna on the coast.  There are some good restaurants and great hikes – see the Grace Ridge photos below.  Seward is a smaller town with not as much going on, but nearby Kenai Fjords National Park is amazing.  All of the glacier shots are from that area. 

We didn’t make it to Denali, given the distance, but I know some others have made the trek.  I think the experience is highly weather dependent, as the mountain is only out 1/3 of the time.

The best part of this rotation were the people.  We were invited to dinner and fun activities with so many docs and their families.  Indeed we were made to feel part of their families.  Tiffany got to eat moose heart once too! 

Glacial silt gives the river its characteristic color. The silt is called “stone flour” because it is incredibly fine, leaving the river unusually cloudy.

Alaska Native Medical Center Aug/Sept 2012

I just got back from a month at ANMC in Anchorage.  I did 2 weeks of hospitalist and 2 weeks of outpatient clinics.  Like previous posters have said, you see a lot of cancer and alcohol-related complications on the inpatient side.  And it’s true that you can get exposure to EGDs and doing treadmills, if you like those kinds of things.  You can pretty much see whatever you want, in terms of procedures or surgeries and whatnot since the place is small enough and the staff are very accommodating.

I’d like to put in a plug for the outpatient experience, since not many people have posted about that thus far.  You rotate through different clinics everyday, including a combined rheum/pulm connective tissue disease clinic (where you see more scleroderma with interstitial lung disease than you have ever seen in your life), GI clinic, hepatitis clinic, general medicine.  The outpatient attendings are all great teachers and excited to have us there.  The patients are great, appreciative, and come from very interesting places.

Aside from the clinical experience, the rotation is very well-organized with great support from the coordinators.  They give you a long weekend so you can go explore Alaska.  I made it to Seward for a glacier/wildlife tour and also to Denali National Park.  I don’t know if I was unlucky with the weather but by the second week of September there were more rainy days than sunny ones.  But no matter what the weather, the Alaskan wilderness is majestic.

Just make sure you have one of those nice cameras with the big lens if you want to take good pictures of wildlife.  You don’t want to have to be too close to a grizzly.