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Out of the Mouths of Babes: A Student Perspective

November 21, 2013

November has been nothing short of monumental for Health Partners Free Clinic, so it seems fitting that local girl Libby Galbreath be the pharmacy student with us for the month.  Libby has volunteered at Health Partners in the past, and housing her has been like hanging out with your little sister home from Christmas break.  She openly admits that she grew up on the “good” side of the tracks, but that hasn’t stopped her from understanding the plight of those in need.  In the end, that’s what we pray a student takes away from their time at the Clinic.

Last spring when rotation results were released and I found out that I would be spending November with Justin Coby at Health Partners, I was elated. Health Partners Free Clinic (HPFC) is a place that I was very familiar with as I completed many volunteer hours there.  I definitely knew what to expect.

However, I later learned that I was joining HPFC at a very important time in the clinic’s 15 year history. November marked the start of their first full time Nurse Practitioner, JoAnn Barhorst. This meant for the clinic expanded walk-in hours, and an anticipated tripling of services offered to the patient demographic. I was ready for the challenge and excited to help.

Flash forward 8 months and here I am now documenting my experiences at HPFC as the month of November draws to a close. I have been busy here at the clinic doing anything from filling prescriptions out of the small pharmacy, to counseling patients on diabetes. JoAnn has been a wonderful asset to the clinic and I have no doubt that with her help and expertise in patient care the number of lives touched will only continue to grow. I feel very blessed to have been a part of the transition and my hope is that I played a part in making it a smooth one.

The lessons I learned this month, however, were not only pharmacy related. I had experiences that made me look inward and reflect on myself as well. I will be the first to admit I lead a somewhat sheltered and privileged life. I was born and raised in Piqua, a small city with close friends and a wonderful, loving, supportive and accepting family who fulfill my every need. While I have worked extremely hard and spent countless hours of studying toward earning my Doctorate, I recognize that I have been very blessed with the opportunity to attend Lehman Catholic High School, to attend Ohio Northern University, and to have a roof over my head, food in my belly and medications as I needed them along the way. What is heartbreakingly evident here at HPFC is that so many people are without the most basic amenities that so many of us under appreciate. Not only this, I see how easily lacking basic needs can result in far reaching consequences such as  a missed opportunity to further one’s education or build a career. The fact is God made all of us in His image and likeness; we are all equal. Differences lie in the opportunities that have been laid before us and our ability (mental, physical, logistic or otherwise) to capitalize.

Driven by this sentiment, I have been overcome with a yearning to help others, greater than I have ever experienced before. SO many people are in need of help- and let me tell you, it does not have to be monetary! Through the course of the month I have also been exposed to all of the other nonprofit organizations in the area and I am amazed by how many people are doing so many wonderful things for this community. I urge others to get out and volunteer time, however much or little it may be. I can assure you it will be a rewarding and self-fulfilling experience.

While my knowledge base has grown this month, so too has my empathy toward others. That, I assure you, is a lesson far more valuable than one out of any text book.

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.” –Blessed Mother Theresa