Medical Student Libby Feist Practicing Medicine and Spanish during RPAP Experience

Published in Medical Students

Author: Staff

Growing up in New Prague, Minn., Libby Feist loved watching the television show ER with her mom. It’s what first sparked her interest in the medical field. Science classes were her favorite, and a human anatomy class she took in high school was further proof that it may be the right career for her. But it wasn’t until her first year of college when she spent time shadowing a family medicine physician that she knew it was precisely what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.

Now Libby is working toward that dream as a third-year Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) medical student at University of Minnesota and on rotation at ACMC in Willmar.

After growing up in a rural community, Libby knew she eventually wanted to live and work in a community that was similar. Her time living and working in Willmar is giving her a first-hand look at the kind of practice she hopes to have one day.

“There is something special about being a part of a community like Willmar. I see myself practicing in a more rural area, and I wanted to gain clinical experience in the environment that I plan to practice in one day. That’s exactly what I’m getting to do during my RPAP rotations here,” Libby said.

Every Day is a Learning Experience for Medical Student Libby Feist

Libby is finding that every day and every patient presents something different and new. As she settles into the second half of her RPAP experience, she’s been here long enough to get to know some of the patients, and her patients are getting to know her, too.

“The best part of my time here has been the patients I have had the pleasure of working with. I have learned more working with them than I ever could have imagined,” Libby said.

That’s particularly true when it comes to her language skills. In college Libby minored in Hispanic Studies. During her junior year, she spent a semester in Spain where she became fluent in Spanish.  She went on a medical volunteer trip to Guatemala in medical school and learned more medical Spanish. It’s come in handy as she works with one of her preceptors, Dr. Daniel Fuglestad, and his Hispanic patient base.

“On my first or second day, I was working with Dr. Fuglestad. When he found out I spoke Spanish, he had me go see a pregnant patient, who spoke no English, all by myself. I was able to fumble through that appointment even though I did not know how to say many different obstetrical terms in Spanish,” she laughs.

Since then Libby has worked with many Hispanic patients and most of the time is able to communicate with them in Spanish.

“I do utilize the interpreters when they are present with patients, but sometimes they laugh and say that I don’t need them at all! I am really enjoying being able to use my Spanish in the medical setting,” Libby said. “I never really thought about wanting to practice somewhere I could use those skills, but now I realize I’d like to make it a part of my future practice.”

And Libby has enjoyed learning from the two doctors who have served as her mentors during her RPAP experience.

“My preceptors, Dr. Fuglestad and Dr. Michael Nicklawsky are absolutely wonderful. They’re great teachers, sharing their wisdom and experience with me, but also letting me get involved in patient care as much as possible,” Libby said.

She adds, “Dr. Nicklawsky has also been a great example to me of valuing his time in clinic but with his family as well. I’ve learned so much more than the clinical things I had hoped to learn. I’m learning how to live as a physician while running a successful practice. They are pushing me to become the best physician I can be.”