A Student Perspective: Rebecca Widder

May 29, 2015

May has been a full month for us here at the Clinic!  From increased patients during what typically is a slow time, to our annual fundraiser, there has been little time to take a breath.  Luckily, our May pharmacy student, Rebecca, already knew the ropes here at Health Partners as she has been volunteering with us sporadically throughout her pharmacy school career at Cedarville University.  We were happy to have a familiar face during an otherwise hectic time, and Rebecca came to work.  Her perspective on this past month comes from a professional mind much more mature than her years:


My experience at Health Partners has been so rich, so full, so rewarding, that I don’t quite know where to even start. Since I’ve been volunteering here since my first year of pharmacy school, I could talk about how I’ve grown from a “baby pharmacist” who barely knew the drug names to a “young adult pharmacist” starting out on her rotations before she graduates. I could talk about the wonderful collaborative environment here, where I’ve had a chance to see what health care looks like from the perspective of a variety of health care workers. I could talk about how meeting someone where they are sometimes means not treating their conditions in the textbook way. I could talk about all the unique demands of finding an affordable way to treat the conditions of the people we see. I could talk about the numerous ways Health Partners goes above and beyond to meet those needs. But as important and valuable as all of these experiences and lessons were, the stories of the people I’ve met resonate with me even more

Everyone has a history, a series of events, decisions, and people that bring them through our doors. Whether a patient, a staff member, or a volunteer, everyone here has a story. This month, I’ve been privileged to hear a few of them. I wish I could share some of them with you – but in the interests of protecting confidentiality, I won’t. Instead, you’ll just have to come by the clinic and take a listen for yourself. Trust me, it is well worth the time and effort. But what I’ve learned out of these stories is not to make judgements or assumptions about people’s lives or health. That person who isn’t taking their blood pressure medicine? There might be a reason behind it other than pure stubbornness. That person who won’t stop drinking, even though we can’t give them their heart medications until they cut back the alcohol? There’s a reason they drink. That person who has wildly uncontrolled diabetes and won’t change their diet? Well, sometimes, the choice is bad food or no food. Everyone has a story. And when I lecture patients (under the guise of “counseling” of course!) about their health habits without taking time to hear their story, I cheat them out of better health care.

So, take some time to listen to someone’s story today, because it just might help you better understand their choices. Going into practice as a “real” pharmacist, my goal is to ask my patients what’s going on before I jump into any health advice. Because in order to meet someone where they are, you first have to know where they are. And you learn where they are by listening.