Student Perspective: Katie

March 30, 2017

The month of March has been filled with discussion about the future of health care as the new administration works to leave their mark on this ever-changing landscape.  With all this discussion centered on health care, it seems rare that we actually talk about health.  Katie, our March pharmacy extern from Ohio Northern University, had the unique opportunity of not only hearing the many available opinions about how the country should provide health care, but also the ability to serve in a Clinic that provides it for free.  She graces us with her thoughts about time spent at Health Partners in the March edition of Student Perspective:   

With politics filling our media feeds and evening news, it is easy to become distracted in the “what if’s” of policy reform. The availability of care for each individual is often the topic of discussion, but what if the discussion was turned to the quality of care being received. Can quality of care make up for a lack of quantity of care? This question has been speculated during each healthcare reform discussion and debate, but it often ends over the deliberation of numerical values. Our society is preoccupied by placing worth on a numerical value and getting the best “bang for our buck” that we often forget to place worth on the human value. The interest in a person’s story, wellbeing, and outcomes is what sets Health Partners Free Clinic apart from the for-profit driven health care our society has become accustomed to.

I have found that “care” is often omitted when it comes to healthcare, and the quality of care is determined by governing bodies that evaluate the cost rather than the person. The quid pro quo mentality that predominates society has become the norm, and we often are surprised when companies and individuals exhibit kindness and generosity. During my time at Health Partners, I have learned that the value of kindness and generosity have no true tangible cost, but consist solely on the ability to feel and exhibit compassion. Health Partners has provided me with a fresh outlook of the possibility of focusing on the quality of care given in a system where the only driving factor is aiming for positive patient outcomes.

I hope that through my patient interactions and counseling I have been able to make a difference in the life of a patient. Having the luxury to spend an hour with patients reviewing their medication therapy and counseling on lifestyle modifications has been one of the best experiences throughout my rotation year thus far. The gift of time offers a rare opportunity that pharmacists aren’t often afforded in daily practice. Based on the amount of prescriptions waiting in the que, pharmacists are often pressured to give patients a 30 second counseling session – if we’re lucky. I hope to have given patients the motivation needed to continue insulin therapy, show up for their appointments, make simple but healthier decisions, and believe that they are deserving of quality healthcare.

More important than the impact I hope to have made, is the lasting impact that Health Partners has left on me. The patients at Health Partners have showed me that medication alone does not fix problems, and is often the least of their worries. Humans are much more complex than the temporary band-aid medication provides, and really good people are regularly dealt an unfair hand. Empathy and compassion are skills used hourly at Health Partners. These intangible skills cannot be taught through a textbook, but must be learned and enhanced through experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve a well-deserving community of patients for the month of March, all the while gaining the ability to truly understand the practice of conveying patient care with empathy and compassion. I have found that the true value of healthcare lies in the ability to truly care for patients regardless of the cost.