Weather Forecast


Like father, like daughter...

It's not often that a surgeon has the opportunity to be joined in the operating room by his own daughter.

But that's what happened to Dr. George Portilla last week.

His daughter, Annie, was in the midst of a two-week summer internship at St. Mary's Innovis in Detroit Lakes, where George has been employed since 1987.

A graduate of Detroit Lakes High School, Annie is about to begin her second year at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

"At the end of their first year (medical students) can spend two weeks at a rural medical facility," said George.

"It's called the Summer Internship in Medicine," said Annie, adding that the purpose of the program is "to expose people to rural medicine that wouldn't otherwise get the opportunity."

It's also a means of getting the students interested in RPAP -- Rural Physician Associate Program -- which is designed to give third-year medical students at the U of M an opportunity to have an in-depth, nine-month clinical experience at a rural medical facility.

"We have an RPAP student here every year," George said.

Programs like SIM And RPAP are important, he added, because while most major medical schools are located in large, metropolitan areas, 'the rural setting is where we have the greatest need for doctors."

Annie said the two-week SIM program, which she will finish up at the end of this week, "has been really fun."

During these two weeks, she has spent time in orthopedics, OB GYN, family medicine, public health nursing, the emergency room, and of course, surgery.

George is a specialist in general surgery and endoscopy. A lot of his work involves emergency procedures like appendectomies and gall bladder removal. He also does endoscopic procedures on the upper and lower GI (gastrointestinal) tracts, where fiberoptic tubes are inserted into those organs for the removal of polyps or early detection of cancerous areas.

"She (Annie) spent the morning with me, seeing patients at the clinic, and in the afternoon we went to the operating room for a case," said George. "It was the first time she had scrubbed for the O.R. (operating room)."

"It was cool," Annie said, adding that it was "exciting to get in there (the operating room)."

"Having a daughter going into medicine is a chance to pass down some of the things you learn in practicing (medicine) for 30 years," said George. "How to take care of patients, how to respect your patients' time... all the little things that make a practice successful that they may not get in school."

"It's the first clinical experience I've had," Annie added. "It's been a great experience... it was fun to do it in Detroit Lakes, where I grew up."

Annie, who starts her second year of medical school on Monday, said that while she really enjoyed her experience at St. Mary's Innovis, she hasn't really decided on what area of medicine she would like to specialize in.

"I'm keeping my options open," she added.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454