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Extern Erin Sweeney ’18 @ London Women’s Care

SweeneyLondonWomensSpending a week at London Women’s Care in London KY, with Dr. Melissa Zook was a fascinating and eye opening experience. I feel so blessed to have been able to spend a week immersed in a culture so different from my own. London Kentucky is an unique town nestled at the base of the Appalachian Mountains. There are not many large and established doctor’s offices in this part of Eastern Kentucky, and so patients of the practice hail from all over the region. London Women’s Care is primarily an OBGYN, so Dr. Zook, as a family practitioner, is unique. She sees everyone from new born babies to the elderly, and throughout her many years of experience, has built strong relationships with her patients. She strongly values patient care, and despite the large number of patients she sees each day, she takes time to talk to each one individually about their lives. She believes in the importance of treating the whole person and not just the symptom, and works hard to better the quality of life for her patients.

I learned so much about the healthcare system, the people, and the culture of Eastern Kentucky through my externship with Dr. Zook. It was interesting to learn about the most common illnesses that the people of Eastern Kentucky face, and throughout the week I noticed several themes in the office. For instance many of the patients complained of chronic back pain and anxiety, and many suffered from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

SweeneyLondonWomens2Additionally, London Women’s Care recently began a Subutex program to help opium addicts into recovery. Prior to my externship, I was unaware of just how huge a problem substance abuse is in Eastern Kentucky, and it was eyeopening to witness first hand the toll that these drugs take on the lives of their users. Previously, I had no knowledge of Subutex and Suboxone, but I learned a lot about them throughout the week. Suboxone acts as a replacement drug to opiates by blocking the opium receptors in the brain. Unlike opiates however, this drug produces no sense of euphoria, allowing patients to live normal lives. It prevents withdrawal symptoms, and allows patients the opportunity for recovery. London Women’s Care’s Subutex program supplies patients with Subutex while helping take steps to regain control of their lives. Many of the participants are expectant mothers, although both men and women can take part in the program.

I feel so lucky to have been able to take part in this externship so early in my college career. This externship has taught me a lot about the healthcare system and what it means to be a good doctor. This experience has been a great introduction into the world of medicine, and has made me excited to explore the may avenues of the healthcare system as I move forward with my Gettysburg education.

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