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Free Clinic Student Perspective: Shelby

December 31, 2020

Well our pharmacy extern for the month of December was an oopsy.  That’s right, Shelby was not originally scheduled to be with us here at Health Partners, but, lucky for us, her original experiential site had to limit their staffing and passed on her.  The Clinic was blessed to have her though, as she played an integral part in providing flu vaccine to our patients and others in the larger community.  We appreciate that and the time she took to write her Perspective of a month spent at a free clinic:

This month I was given the opportunity to serve at Health Partners Free Clinic as part of my last year of pharmacy school rotations. This was my first experience working at a free clinic and I could not have had a more rewarding and fulfilled learning experience. Prior to this month, I have had very minimal experience in the setting of ambulatory care. Not only were all the employees at Health Partners welcoming, they provided a great environment for students, like myself, to learn and grow as a future pharmacist.

On a daily basis, I was able to provide recommendations for medications and counsel patients on existing or new medications. The ability to collaborate in patient care was the most exciting aspect of this rotation for me. I felt like I was able to make a difference for patients and helping them manage their medication. Additionally, I gained valuable experience giving countless vaccinations. We served at multiple clinic sites throughout the month in the community administering free flu vaccinations.

The most challenging aspect of this rotation was learning how to care for the patient in front of me.  In healthcare, it is easy to focus solely on what we think is best for the patient and just treating the disease state or the lab values, but this month has taught me to look beyond that and meet the patient where they are. I saw how the social determinants of health affect patients on an individual level and that is one of the greatest components of caring for them that is frequently missed in healthcare.

For example, realizing that some patients might not be taking their medications because they don’t know where their next meal is coming from or they have no transportation to get their medications. In some disease states, such as diabetes, it can be unsafe for some medications to be taken without food and this month has shown me that I need to be asking those types of questions with every patient. Patient care is multifactorial and pharmacists are given the unique opportunity to interact with patients to identify barriers. Most importantly, this taught me how to be more empathetic when caring for patients.

In sum, my time at Health Partners flew by as I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience working alongside all of the nurses, nurse practitioners, volunteers and pharmacy team. The communication and collaborative efforts amongst the staff was effective and I believe is one of the main reasons that patients receive holistic, quality care. As I continue my education, I will continue to learn and reflect on the things I learned at Health Partners!