By Jessica Sly, Communications Specialist
Andee Finn grew up hearing her mother talk about her job as a nurse, which nurtured her desire to work in medicine and help people. Her natural math and science skills helped her succeed in a complex field that constantly changes.
Andee graduated high school in 2012 and undergraduate school in 2016. After a gap year, she started medical school last fall at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Medical School. She plans to graduate in 2021 and begin residency in her chosen specialty.
“I haven’t officially decided,” she said. “More than likely, it will be internal medicine. I’m also interested in emergency medicine and surgery. Those are my three options.”
In July, Andee spent two weeks at Tri-County Health Care as part of the Summer Internship in Medicine (SIM) program. SIM gives U of M medical students exposure to and experience in rural medicine. Andee is thankful that Tri-County agrees to host SIM students. “Most of us will do internships in the Cities, so we don’t get a chance to go to small towns and see what community medicine is like.”
At Tri-County, Andee shadowed providers and various departments at the hospital and Wadena, Verndale and Ottertail clinics so that she could get a taste of rural medicine and see how it differs from urban medicine.
“A lot of the providers (in rural medicine) have broadened their skills and are comfortable doing many things,” she said. “In the Twin Cities, they will refer out because they are readily available.
“I was impressed by how Tri-County was within the community, and the community appreciates that. People trust their providers. People appreciate the relationship they have with their providers. It’s cool to see that.”
Unearthing family history
Unbeknownst to Andee when she accepted the internship, her family has a long history with Tri-County. For one thing, everyone in her immediate family – excluding her – was born at Tri-County.
“They joke I was the city kid out of the family,” she said.
But the connection goes much deeper than that.
While putting herself through nursing school in the 1980s, Andee’s mom worked as a nurse’s aide at Tri-County, kick-starting her 36-year nursing career.
“She grew up in Verndale. To her, Wadena was the big town. They did everything,” Andee said. “She learned great medicine there.”
Around the same time that Andee’s mom started her nursing career, her dad worked for Johnson Construction and took on a project at Tri-County, which included the north end remodel and the addition of the emergency department, including the building of the helicopter pad.
And for the last couple of years, her grandma, Barb, has served as a volunteer for Tri-County, enjoying her time giving back to the community in whatever way she can.
“I thought it was pretty funny finding out these little extra details,” Andee said. “For me, it really enforced the community aspect of the hospital and clinic. It’s a really welcoming community place that has touched many people’s families like it’s touched mine.”
A lasting impression
Andee is aware that she’s chosen a difficult specialty with a long road ahead, but her experience at Tri-County has strengthened her love of health care and encouraged her to stay the course.
“The first year of medical school is really hard. There’s a lot of bookwork, not much clinical experience or interaction with patients,” she said. “(The internship) was a good reminder of why I’m working so hard and studying so hard. Every day, I was excited to get up and go to a clinic. Since I’ve been home, I’ve talked nonstop about the experience and providers I worked with. It reinforced why I’m doing this.
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” she added. “There are a lot of long hours, but at the end of the road, you will have the chance to help someone and affect someone’s life.”
Andee noted that she felt incredibly welcomed by the providers, staff and patients. She values the small, intimate setting and life-changing conversations she experienced.
“I really want to thank everyone for welcoming me,” she said. “I appreciate how much people put their trust in me and how encouraging they are and I am so thankful for how I was treated.”