Student Perspective: Ashley and Logan
April 30, 2018
For the first time in Health Partners history, the Clinic housed two pharmacy externs during their final month of rotation. Both Ashley, from Ohio Northern University, and Logan, from Cedarville University, walked out our doors at the end of the month with nothing between them and graduation. They will soon be bestowed their doctorates and begin their professional careers, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have plenty to learn from us here at the free clinic. High quality patient care isn’t just always about what a provider has in their head. Often, it is more about what they have in their heart. Take a moment to read the Perspective from these two servant-leaders of a month spent at Health Partners:
As a pharmacy student, life is often consumed by late nights full of studying, challenging exams, and intimidating presentations. These responsibilities can often take away from the excitement of becoming a professional who has an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. In my second year of school, I attended an after class meeting like I did every other Tuesday evening. However, this particular meeting was special. This would be the first time I learned about Health Partners Free Clinic and a new passion was ignited within me. It was so exciting to realize that there can be a role for pharmacists to work alongside other professionals to care for underserved populations.
It is now four years later and I could not imagine a better way to finish my time as a pharmacy student than to spend it at Health Partners Free Clinic. This experience easily exceeded all expectations I had for the rotation. It is clear that the clinic continuously strives to provide excellent patient care and does so with an incredible team from varying fields. They have physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, physical therapists, podiatrists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, social workers, administrative staff, students, and volunteers all working side by side to achieve a common goal of caring for another. These individuals are more than a team. They are a family and each individual that walks through the clinic doors becomes a member of this family. Each member is truly special and all of their hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated.
Health Partners has helped me excel as a student pharmacist in various capacities, however, my month at the clinic has been filled with much more than academic growth. This experience has allowed me to see another side of the profession of pharmacy and health care as a whole. I was truly able to get to know some of the patients, which can make an incredible impact in regards to their care. Each individual I met had a different story to share along with unique perspectives about life. Taking the time to truly understand an individual’s home environment, lifestyle, employment status, and financial stability allows the team to make interventions that are personalized to meet the needs of the patient. This can lead to better outcomes that would allow the individual to live the happy and healthy life they deserve. Though I was able to help these individuals better understand their medications, they helped me realize what truly matters in life.
I conclude my month at Health Partners feeling inspired. My education has been such a blessing and I look forward to using it to make a difference. I do not want to just watch change; I want to be the change that allows an individual to live their life to the fullest. I hope to continue building relationships with patients and become someone they can trust. I hope to be the encouragement they need to improve and manage their health. I hope to be the welcoming smile they can always count on and I hope to be the helping hand they can always grasp.
This month at Health Partners Free Clinic was my first experience in a free clinic. I am very fortunate to have an APPE rotation here at the clinic. This was a great opportunity because HPFC is such a unique healthcare model. I think the most important things I learned was the value of relationships and how to work with what you have in order to provide patient care. The clinic is funded by donations from individuals and organization who trust HPFC to provide high quality care.
Relationships take time to develop and require effort to maintain. Donors make the relationships between the clinic and patient possible. Also, having relationships with other organizations is important to connect patient with resources they need but the clinic is not able to provide. Resources such as food, shelter, and counselling are all valuable in helping someone at the clinic. The relationship between the patients and clinic is important because quality of care depends on it. Patients are more likely to seek care, more likely to be adherent, and more likely to return for follow-up treatment. Often these relationships are not easy to establish, they can take time and require you to stay persistent knowing it will be worth the effort.
Health Partners has its own set of challenges and I was challenged to learn how to think through these challenges when providing patient care. Factors such as transportation, income, shelter, and jobs are just a few. Understanding the challenges of a free clinic forces you to use the breadth of your clinical knowledge because the most common solution may not be an option. Often the first or second-line treatment for a patient may not be reasonable. I had to consider what was important to the patient before I could come up with my own plan for treatment. Understanding what motivates a person is important because if the patient does not care, they will not adhere to treatment. To find out what was important to a patient, I had to ask a lot of questions and be a good listener. It is easy to formulate a plan in my head of the best action for a patient but there are too many factors to consider that I need the patient to show me. I think a setting like this is a good place to practice active listening because you are forced to listen before you speak. These skills will be valuable in any setting I practice.
I would recommend any student who has the opportunity to study or volunteer to spend some time at HPFC. The skills I have gained from interacting with patients would benefit any healthcare professional. Students will be able to better understand the patients they are serving, improve their skills working with providers, and improve their clinical skills.