Free Clinic Student Perspective: Megan

October 30, 2020

Social Determinants of Health, or the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes, are taken seriously here at Health Partners Free Clinic. This consideration is so vital to the therapeutic plans we prescribe that we make it mandatory for our students to learn and practice this concept.  They rarely let us down and our October pharmacy extern, Megan was no exception.  Here is her Perspective of a month spent at Health Partners Free Clinic:

I was fortunate enough to have experience with Health Partners before my month-long rotation. So when it came time to pick rotations, I knew Health Partners had to be at the top of my list. Health Partners is such a unique clinic where so many health professionals can get together and truly care for the whole patient. During the month, I was able to talk to patients and educate them on their medications. I have sharpened my skills in both my professional knowledge and my ability to counsel patients. This was the first month where I felt like the nurse practitioners listened to my medical recommendations and applied them to the patients. As an almost pharmacist, this was so important to build my confidence. The staff has so much compassion to spend their time teaching students every day.

The biggest lesson/challenge I have learned at this clinic is to meet people where they are. If we as healthcare professionals are not caring for the whole person then how can we ever expect them to take their medications or do what we recommend. For example, if someone does not know where they are getting their next meal, how can I expect them to take their medication that can potentially upset their stomach? If people do not have transportation to a clinic then how would they ever be treated? These are questions that I would not have even known to ask a patient before this rotation. Now I have the skills and ability to care for my patients better.

I have been fortunate to learn from all the staff to look at the whole patient and learn to get to know them for who they are. In the past, people may have been hurt emotionally by a provider dismissing their symptoms or feelings. At this clinic, the staff takes time to listen to their patients. I think all of these aspects play into the patient’s perspective of getting treatment. To me, meeting people where they are is not a fancy term or one that needs extensive explaining. It is simply not expecting more from the patient than what they bring to the table and being okay with that. Health professionals can easily get into a routine of expecting patients to do exactly what they are told and can be frustrated when that does not happen. I have learned that patients need a health provider that listens with compassion. Patients do not need another person telling them what they are doing wrong. My time at Health Partners has opened my eyes and heart to the needs of this community and how caring health professionals can make all the difference.