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Free Clinic Student Perspective: Devin

April 29, 2021

Devin, our Ohio Northern University pharmacy extern for the month of April, was tasked to take a look at our ambulatory care model and compare it to the experience a patient would have with a family practice.  Of course, Health Partners Free Clinic differs in the fact that we do not charge or bill for our services, but we wanted to perspective of some fresh eyes.  Devin delivered, and we thank him for sharing this Perspective of a month spent at a free clinic. 

My time at Health Partners Free Clinic was the most unique pharmacy experience I have had thus far in my career. I am able to make this assessment because I have been an intern in the community pharmacy setting as well as the hospital setting for over four years. This rotation was also my last rotation of my academic experience. I will never forget the warm welcome I was presented with on my first day. Justin was a kind smile and a helping hand throughout the entire month and this seemed infectious throughout the entire staff.

While witnessing the entire staff building and holding strong relationships with their patients, I also felt that same bond. The clinic introduces new nursing students to the Free Clinic experience just about every day and when giving these new students a tour of the clinic, the staff made sure to introduce me by name and provide background on where I went to school and where I was in my journey. I was perplexed by this incredible feeling of belonging after being here for only one day and I continue to see this level of care provided to the patients that come here.

I had the opportunity to provide education, make recommendations and see patients daily. I was happy to see the same patients multiple times throughout the month and I knew that the patients trusted my new face. I can attribute that to the amazing work that everyone at the clinic does. There is not a bottleneck in the chain of staff. From the moment a patient walks through the door and is welcomed by the smiling faces of the administrative staff, to the initial assessment by a nurse, spending time with a provider, obtaining medications from the pharmacy, making another appointment and getting help from the resource staff, the patient’s best interest is always kept in mind. From the surface, the clinic is a sanctuary for patients in need, though this would not be possible without the help of the support staff behind the scenes.

A project I completed for this experience was to analyze a study from The Johns Hopkins Hospital on the differences in care between a community health center like the clinic and a traditional physician’s office. In my research I found that a community health center was more likely to provide a higher level of care, more medical services and provide more patient education upon discharge, ultimately leading to a better interaction with the patient. Rather than seeing a patient for 10 minutes and writing prescriptions just to send them on their way to bill their insurance, Health Partners really dives deep into each individual’s journey to better health.

In my opinion, the most amazing aspect of this clinic is how care is provided in relation to socioeconomic determinants. Fixing a lab value with a medication is “checking the box” in terms of providing medical care, but Health Partners strives to find a root cause of a health condition and provide solutions to help overcome that. I admire this aspect of the clinic because in the age of “Fast Food Health Care”, it is hard to find a health care provider that will take the time and do their due diligence to help patients as much as possible.