Student Perspective: Emily and Adam
June 28, 2019
All interactions that we have with students here at the Clinic are rewarding. Most every one of these students soak up the experience here like a sponge and are excited to get in the mix with the care of our patients. However, we must say, the best experience is when a student fresh out of the classroom steps through our doors and interacts with a patient for the very first time. This past June, our two pharmacy externs, Adam, from Ohio Northern University, and Emily, from Cedarville University, were able to have just such an experience. We thank them for sharing their Perspective with us:
During the month of June, I had the opportunity to work with Health Partners Free Clinic in Troy, Ohio. I would highly recommend this site to every student interested in ambulatory care, especially in an underserved setting. I had never been to a free clinic prior to this month, and honestly did not know what to expect. Since most of my pharmacy experience has been working in a community pharmacy, I assumed it would be similar, but that maybe I would be counseling more patients. Looking back, I was correct to some extent, but the other pharmacy student and I, were able to do so much more.
The neat thing about HPFC is the staff is from all different professions. There is social work, pharmacy, nursing, nurse practitioners, and many volunteers. Even though there are many moving pieces, each one comes together to help every patient. The nurses and nurse practitioners were incredible. They were always quick to let us the pharmacy students assist with procedures and to let us be involved with the discussion regarding the treatment plans.
As a student, this not only helped me gain confidence in drug information but also let me see that interprofessional relationships are an important part in patient care. Patients will greatly benefit when providers are willing to work with other professions regarding each of their specific treatment plans.
HPFC has taught me to be able to think beyond the prescription. In order to truly help the patient, we must address the entire patient. During this month, I was able to watch the social worker quickly assess the patients and then make referrals to counseling services, or other specialists, help patients obtain gas money to make it to their next appointment, or even just helping people get basic toiletries and access to food.
The biggest takeaway I have from this month is that just because people need to make lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, due to high blood pressure or diabetes, does not mean that they have the means. I learned that most of the foods that are donated to soup kitchens and food pantries are canned goods and starch filled foods. These are typically donated because they are considered non-perishables, but nevertheless, these patients cannot eat these foods. The entire purpose of these places is to supplement their monthly food allotment. This means that these patients are only able to eat half of the food that they are getting at the pantry or soup kitchen, and this might not be enough.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time at HPFC. I learned a lot about how this clinic is serving the underserved and making sure that healthcare is accessible to everyone. A lot of what I learned has made me think of how I can apply it back in my hometown and made me wonder why this is not something already in place. I love that this rotation has left me wanting more and I cannot wait to be able to go back and volunteer.
I grew up in Northwest Ohio in a small town called Gibsonburg. Growing up here, I was never fully aware of the difficulties that our rural population faced. Driving 20-30 minutes to the nearest hospital, very few restaurants, one small grocery store, and limited health services were all just a normalcy that I grew quite comfortable with. That is, until I came to Health Partners Free Clinic. (HPFC).
Since my time at HPFC was my first clinical experience, I was very nervous coming into the clinic. Am I prepared? Do I know enough? What if the staff doesn’t like me? What if the staff are mean? Will I be bored? All of these questions were running through my mind as I walked in the first day. However, these questions were quickly retracted. The entire staff treated me as one of their own! I quickly observed that each and every staff member took pride in their jobs which allowed for an enjoyable. Additionally, they all had their own niche in the clinic in which they work diligently that allows for not only excellent health care, but also general services as well.
Health Partners Free Clinic has been a blessing to my career as a health care provider. My time at HPFC has taught me to see a patient as a whole person instead of just a person with a disease state. There are many variables that need to be taken into consideration when treating a patient as a whole, most of which I had not taken into consideration before Health Partners. Additionally, the clinic has opened my horizons as to the many services that are provided by the communities to its citizens in order to help those in need. HPFC’s collaboration with seemingly endless organizations allows for complete patient care instead of only health care.
As I look back over the month spent at HPFC, I am grateful for the things I have learned. Miami County and my hometown of Gibsonburg have many similarities. Food deserts, transportation issues, and limited healthcare are all areas I now feel comfortable in handling and will be areas of focus in my future endeavors. I am eagerly waiting to take the skills and knowledge I have acquired over the last month and apply them to rural communities that need services similar to HPFC. I cannot thank the Health Partners Free Clinic staff enough for their investment into me as a health care provider, but also me as a person!