Student Perspective: Caitlin and Ruth
March 29, 2018
The month of March brought the Clinic not one but two pharmacy externs! Caitlin from Ohio Northern University and Ruth from Cedarville University, spent the last 30 days testing their clinical skills out on our unique patient population. They were tasked with seeing the humanity in healthcare and getting back to the roots of medicine. Both these young students will leave the Clinic having had experiences very specific to their Perspective and they were kind enough to share that with us:
As soon as I heard about the rotation at Health Partners, I knew I wanted to do it. Being from Michigan, I had no idea where Troy, OH even was, and I did not know where I would live for the month if I got the rotation, but I saw this wonderful opportunity to serve others and knew that I needed to take it. Many of the best memories from my time at ONU are related to the service groups I was a part of, and I knew that I wanted to have more opportunities to serve others during this year of rotations.
One of the groups that I was most involved in at school was Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, and one of the brothers used to frequently quote Muhammed Ali: “Service is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Ever since I first heard the quote, I have tried to live my life by it.
Because I have been so blessed throughout my life, I try to do as much service as I can for others to pass those blessings on.
This month, I had the pleasure of reading Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle, in which he shares stories about his work in a part of Los Angeles that is full of gang activity. A quote by Sr. Elaine Roulette really stuck with me, “How do you work with the poor? You don’t. You share your life with the poor.”
I think that this quote is so important. It is important for us to allow those who we help into our lives and hope that they will give us the privilege of sharing in their lives as well.
From a healthcare perspective, this is especially crucial. If a patient does not see that we care about them and welcome them as part of our lives, it is possible that they will not trust us enough to tell the full story of what is going on with them. They may also not want to follow our recommendations for treatment if they do not see that we truly want to help them get better and improve their lives.
Sharing our lives with those less fortunate is not just beneficial to them. I feel so blessed to have gotten to know not only many of the patients this month but also the volunteers and staff at the clinic. I have gotten to hear some fascinating stories and have learned so much about empathy, compassion, and generosity.
While this rotation did a fantastic job of preparing me for the more traditional aspects of a career in pharmacy, I believe the lessons I learned about service and compassion will be what I remember the most and will take with me throughout my career.
Losing your job, miles of traveling to care for a family member, going without food or adequate transportation. On top of all of this imagine having to deal with all your health problems. These are just a few of the many hard situations patients at Health Partners Free Clinic in Troy face. Through my month-long rotation at Health Partners, I realized that life is very much unpredictable in that you never know what life will hand you. Sometimes it’s good; other times it’s bad. And one thing I’m realizing is that no one is able to go through life’s difficulties on their own no matter how strong they think they are.
We need the help of others in times of need. But how many people are willing to reach out to those in need? Furthermore, I believe man is at his most vulnerable point when his health is on the line. And people want help. They need help. And that is why Health Partners exists- to help those in a very vulnerable time.
At the start of my rotation, I had all the feelings of being a student that lacked experience and confidence. I was also trying to familiarize myself in an unfamiliar environment, and apparently it showed. For instance, I will never forget one encounter I had with a patient where I walked into the room, and the first thing he said to me was to stop being so nervous. He said he was like me once (which was very hard to believe!). One day, however, he made the realization that he put his pants on just like everyone else- one leg at a time- and he got over his nervousness.
I thought about our encounter for some time afterwards, and I realized that he was right. Looking only on the outside, it is so easy to pick out our differences. However, when you dig deep down to the core, we are all the same. We all share the same humanness in all the ugliness and in all the beauty.
Some patients were very blunt and to-the-point like that one patient, but others were more withholding in that I could sense a thick wall around them when I entered the room that seemed impossible to penetrate. Nonetheless, I did not treat them any differently, and it was such an amazing experience to see those walls coming down.
I realized that many of us, including myself, spend so much time putting up walls around us for whatever reason. However, Health Partners Free Clinic is such a unique and special place where all walls come down because we realize that we are all vulnerable and all the same- we all put our pants on one leg at a time.