Student Perspective: Haley and Mikala
November 29, 2019
In a month when we are thoughtful about what makes us thankful, we at the Clinic can say, without a doubt, that the students we get to work with fit on this list! During the month of November, pharmacy externs, Haley and Mikala were two of those students that make a great impact on the Clinic. They were even willing to share their Perspective of a month spent at a free clinic:
This past month has been truly eye opening. It would be an understatement to say that my mindset has been forever changed. To understand the plight of fellow members of the community and to empathize with them has changed my perspective on not only healthcare but life in general. This experience will undoubtedly make me a better pharmacist as well as a more compassionate and conscientious member of society. I already feel changed, and for the good. Instead of random, aimless, carefree thoughts running through my head while jogging on a treadmill at the Y, I see the donor flags and the poster on the wall about how just a few dollars could provide services to families in need. Instead of thinking what am I going to do Saturday night, I think what I could do today that could help a child get free swim lessons and an opportunity to fall in love with fitness.
The unending generosity of each staff member is inspiring and sets the precedent of the care provided at the clinic. The level of compassion and care provided by Health Partners is incredible and an outstanding example of not only what a free clinic should look like but simply what primary care should look like. The staff at HPFC is a multidisciplinary team that takes on health care in a multifaceted approach. The combination of social services, medical care as well as insurance assistance provides all-encompassing care to each patient individually. It was absolutely clear that in some cases medicine was not going to be the most important player in a patient’s care. Who cares if the patient can get diabetes medication when they only have access to fast food? Having staff who focus solely on the social and insurance aspect is critical to the success this clinic has with many patients.
The community outreaches to provide point of care tests is a perfect example that shows the collaboration between medical care and social services. Taking peoples’ blood pressure and blood glucose is a fantastic service that helps to screen for treatable diseases, but the building of relationships between the clinic and the community was far more beneficial. The clinic takes such care to build report with members of the community in order to provide care to those who need it the most.
As a student this experience proved to be extremely valuable. The opportunity to work closely with providers and learn how to develop a professional relationship is a tool that I believe will help me in practice and become a more thoughtful practitioner. I loved having the opportunity to collaborate with providers to come up with creative and unique therapeutic plans. These plans not only focused on treating the patient but also took into consideration what was realistic, attainable and affordable for the patient. This extra thought process is often ignored by many practices, which lead to poor outcomes and patient failures. Health Partners’ providers consider the patient as not just a nameless face to get in and out, but as a human being who deserves excellent medical care and dignity. This rotation was so rewarding and instilled a sense of purpose and pride in the care I was helping to provide.
Medicine is a vastly growing field, fueled by dollars, with the most astounding technological and health advances. But what happens when you have no money to pay into this? This is the gap in which Health Partners Free Clinic serves. HPFC is the very definition of compassion. Just in the short time that I have been able to work in the clinic and with the people who make the clinic possible, I have learned more about how to treat a patient, than any textbook or advancement could ever explain.
On an individual patient level, HPFC is providing the best care to the underserved, poor, underinsured, forgotten, complicated, broken, and the list goes on and on. HPFC provides every patient with their own unique treatment. Whether that be with a nurse, physician, pharmacist, social worker, or insurance assistant, each patient is looked at as an individual with real problems regardless of their background. Compassion for each human radiates from the clinic and provides hope to not only those being seen but to all they come into contact with. Ambulatory care is an incredible field and the impact that a pharmacist with the help of an interdisciplinary team can make is boundless.
From a community perspective, HPFC is changing healthcare in Troy and the surrounding communities. We got the opportunity to go into the community with the clinic to help provide blood pressure and blood glucose screenings at a local soup kitchen. The turnout was unbelievable and getting to interact with these individuals, normally seen at the clinic, was moving. Hearing their stories, educating them, and just letting them know that the clinic is there to support them was great. This is the first opportunity I have had to go outside the facility on an APPE to see how the local community operates and what my site truly means the people.
On top of this, HPFC is innovative and always looking for the next best way to help not only the patients, but also to bring healthcare to small businesses, continuously educate their staff, and to partner with other local organizations to make a bigger impact. They think outside of the box to increase their global impact daily. As a student I learned about how to run and manage a free health clinic but also how to market yourself, advance, and financials. This has encouraged me to try new things and to attempt projects that I have never before thought as practical.
Overall, I would recommend this APPE experience, or any type of volunteering/learning experience for that matter, to everyone. The interpersonal relationships at the clinic pushes you as a student to think about how to treat a patient with limited supplies. On a daily basis you get to interact with patients, triage, counsel, make pharmacologic recommendations, and more. It is a comfortable environment to learn and make mistakes in. Compassion is not something that is easily taught or given. I am thankful, especially during this holiday season, for HPFC and that I have been blessed to witness their love.