Student Perspective: Jake

April 28, 2017

As we close out the fourth year of our pharmacy student experiential rotation here at the Clinic, we were blessed to have Cedarville University student, Jake with us during the month of April.  Health Partners is a terrific cite to end a student’s final rotation at, because we like to offer a fresh view of what health care can truly be if you are willing to address all of life’s barriers.  Jake took his many skills he has developed over this past year to provide care for our patients, and in doing so, he even picked up a few new ones.  Jake tells all in this month’s Student Perspective:

In the classroom there are no roadblocks to perfect health care. With textbooks and medical resources, we can solve any therapeutic dilemma. On paper, we can add a medication to a patient’s regimen and they are 100% adherent. We can prescribe a brand name drug and their insurance will cover the expense. We can schedule a follow-up appointment and they will certainly show up. Our sense of control is only dependent on our knowledge of the material and the only circumstance is whether we choose A, B, C, or D. Working at Health Partners has opened my eyes to the reality that the circumstances of life and hierarchy of needs often get in the way of a perfect therapeutic plan. I have realized that roadblocks to care and the influence of “life chaos” are made even more real in the setting of a free clinic.

Over the past month, I have been able to interact with a diversity of underserved patients. They each have a worthwhile story to tell and, understandably, have many circumstances that negatively affect their health. During my first week with Health Partners I attended a 2-hour class called “Bridges out of Poverty”. In the United States, the evident trend is that the richer you are the healthier you are. And vice versa: the poorer you are the sicker you are. The uninsured and under-insured more commonly have a mindset regulated by the tyranny of the moment and survival instinct, leading to decisions that poorly affect their health in the long run. Furthermore, I have learned that patient attitudes, mannerisms, and priorities do not always follow common middle- or upper-class expectations. Learning about these behaviorisms first-hand has proven to me the importance of developing significant relationships with underserved patients.

For example, when counseling on smoking cessation, I have found that patients are often resistant to change and less likely to quit during hectic life situations. Whether it be a recent loss of a job, a sudden change in housing, or loss of insurance, I have found that there are many factors that affect health-related motivation. We can create the perfect therapeutic plan—we can load the dice in our favor—but ultimately we are leaving much of the outcome to chance and to the unpredictability of a life in poverty.

With this in mind, I have discovered great value in interdisciplinary health care during my month at Health Partners. I have seen how social work, insurance navigation, and prescription assistance all provide a solid ground from which to build a healthy, more stable life.  I have found Health Partners to be a tremendous toolbox of talented individuals who understand the health care system and are able to help patients regain control of their health. There is no better place to conclude my pharmacy school training than at Health Partners Free Clinic. Here the goal is not money, the goal is service. And it is not hard to feel passionate about their mission and objective.