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Klopper, Travnicek medical interns in Philip

Doctors in the making … Henk Klopper (left) and Paul Travnicek are interning at the Philip hospital under the supervision of Henk's dad, Dr. Coen Klopper, and Dr. Dave Holman, respectively. They will be in this rotation of internship until the end of February and will graduate from the University of South Dakota at Vermillion in May.

They each have their own backgrounds and personalities, yet Paul Travnicek and Henk Klopper befriended each other while in medical school and are following somewhat similar paths toward their doctorates.

Both young men began their most recent interning rotation under the tutorship of Philip doctors on January 31 and will continue until February 28. Both will graduate from the University of South Dakota on May 7.

Travnicek grew up on a farm near the rural community of Scotland, SD, where his father is an anesthesiologist. His older brother is in his second year of medical residency. Travnicek already has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from SDSU and is anxious for mid-March when he will know his own future place of residency. Those three-to-seven years of hands-on experience will prepare him for the emergency medicine field he is aiming for. “Emergency medicine is kind of the jack-of-all-trades for a doctor,” explained Travnicek.

“This internship is going really fast so far. I think it’ll turn out to be not long enough,” said Travnicek. His easy smile is a professional must. “You will burn out if you don’t have a little bit of humor. The darker side of medicine is equalled with its up-side. You see people’s lives take a 180 degree turn. You see a lot of social situations that are not very pleasant – domestic disputes, violence. The whole profession is learning that better listening is a big part of medicine. It’s good to know that you are there to help.” While on an earlier interning rotation in Rapid City, Travnicek delivered 10 babies.

Dr. Holman is pleased with the intern program and with Travnicek. “It’s not really any extra work. Actually it’s helpful. I catch up, re-learn and hear about new things in medicine. Being an educator, you generally learn more from the teaching,” said Holman. “Our part of teaching here is to give experience – seeing and doing – you can only get so much from a book. I enjoy having a resident student around. It’s fun.”

Henk Klopper is interning under the supervision of his father, Dr. Coen Klopper. According to Henk, this situation is “probably a little more relaxed, but I’m learning a lot and am enjoying it.” Henk graduated from Philip High School in 1995.

Klopper already has a degree in microbiology and plans on going into neurosurgery. He aimed for the medical profession because, “I have thought about it all along. I like the personal aspects of being a physician; as opposed to working in a lab or doing research. You get to work with people. It’s a more personal profession in that way.”

Continued training toward neurosurgery will probably have to be in Omaha, then with a practice in a larger city such as Rapid City or Sioux Falls – but not much larger.

His smile, like Travnicek’s, is a natural part of the profession. “I get to do something that I am interested in and can use my training to help people. Any field where you interact with people has humorous things that come up. That is the enjoyable part of the job,” said the younger Klopper and Dr. Klopper agreed.

Dr. Klopper is quiet about his feelings of his son working hard to be a medical doctor, but he said, “It’s something I’m proud of, him achieving and doing.”

How does his mother feel about his career choice and his interning with his father? “She is just happy that I have a job; me not living in the basement and eating their food.” Both Henk and his friend, Paul, are staying at the Klopper’s during the intern rotation.