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Student Perspective: Tori

December 28, 2017

What a world of difference a short distance can make.  From a trip over an ocean to serve in a third world country or a trip into another town to help those in need, hearts and minds can be changed.  Sometimes the trip is into our own souls to seek the true pain that others feel.  Our December pharmacy extern, Tori, from Ohio Northern University made a trip of her own over this last month and has been so kind as to share her journey in this month’s edition of Student Perspective:

22 miles. This is all that separated the town from where I grew up to Health Partners Free Clinic. Fort Loramie is a small, affluent town that has many people who are appreciative of what they have, and are willing to lend a hand and help those who are less fortunate and in need. However, I had no idea that just down the road was such a need for this help. The amount of people who are in need of health care in Miami County is astonishing and left me with an eye-opening experience. My time at HPFC was spent interacting with these patients and hearing their stories of defeat and heartache, triumphs and glories, and numerous attempts to get their life back together with no one to help or left in their corner. And then they came to Health Partners. From the moment they walked in the door patients know that they can seek help and quality healthcare at Health Partners. They are able to meet with a caring physician, get counseled by a thoughtful pharmacist, taken care of by a helpful nurse, and see a supportive social worker or have someone help guide them with their insurance if they need it. I saw patients who have just recently required the services and patients who had been utilizing the clinic for years, and for all of these patients, we were able to be a small beacon of light, a sign of hope that better things are still to come.

In my time at HPFC I was able to help distribute medications for these patients as well as counsel them on the new medications for their use, side effects, and what they can expect from taking their medication. I was able to discuss with patients about adherence barriers that they are experiencing and guide them with helpful tips to increase their overall health. We were able to look at patients and see their hardships, why that may affect their health or medication problems, and try to work through them on an individual patient level. I was able to make visits with the social worker to see what resources we could provide, and to sit through meetings with the certified marketplace navigator who would help to guide patients through the Marketplace to determine which insurance is best for them and which would be most beneficial. Through all of these visits, I was better able to understand the whole patient. Experiencing this will allow me to take a step back when a patient is not being adherent to their medication and ask “Why? What other issues may this patient be having that could affect their ability to take their medication?”

At Health Partner Free Clinic we are able to sit down one-on-one with many patients and get down to the cause of many medication issues that other doctor’s offices may not have the resources or time to do. Many patients that I would talk with about inhaler technique had either never been shown how to actually use one or had forgotten how to use it. By simply modifying their administration with a few key points, I saw patients better able to get their medication and the benefit that they saw from taking the medication. Patient care on an individual level and utilizing their resources to the full benefit is something that I have learned during my time at Health Partners. I also learned to better understand patient’s situations. From working the night shift and having to make adjustments for their dosing regimens to patients who may not be capable of reading and understanding all the words on their pill bottle so a better verbal description was required. It made me realize just how important it is for health care providers to understand these barriers that patients may be having and working hard to alter the approach to the patient for a better overall healthcare experience.

In my experience here at Health Partners Free Clinic, especially during the Christmas and Holiday season, I have come to truly understand the need for selflessness and giving back, not only to run this clinic, but that is also needed by these patients here in Miami County. I know that I will now hold special patients in my heart, and apply the lessons I have learned here in my future pharmacy career. Because of Health Partners Free Clinic I know I will be a better pharmacist and a better person. All because I traveled 22 miles down the road.