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Student Perspective: Leno and Whitney

August 27, 2020

The patient care process, especially in our current healthcare system, can seem cold and sterile.  As healthcare providers, we idolize clean cut solutions to very complex problems.  Problems like homelessness, food insecurity, and abuse do not fall in our cookie-cut solution system well. Here at Health Partners, we value a warmer interaction with our patients and would rather take these complex problems and weave them into the patient’s therapeutic plan.  Our August pharmacy externs, Leno and Whitney, know this all too well as this methodology was reiterated to them on a daily basis.  Though different, the got used to asking these harder questions when taking care of our patients and were kind enough to write about those experiences in this month’s Student Perspective.

Whitney

Health Partners Free Clinic has transformed my idea of what healthcare should look like. I learned about truly caring about the wholistic health of the patient which often looks different than the traditional model of reimbursement based care. Knowing that patients depend on this service shows the “Why” behind what goes on here at Health Partners.

Throughout this month I learned about the important resources that all of the patients are provided with when they walk through the doors. Whether that be a regular check-up with the nurse practitioners, refiling their weekly medication reminder box, receiving lab draws for A1C/INR/Lipids, or working with our Social Worker or Marketplace navigator to establish insurance and other current needs for that patient (i.e. access to food, transportation, or other social services).

This month taught me to look beyond the common practices that we are taught in the classroom and to think outside of the box when it comes to our patients here at the clinic. I was able to help develop complex plans for our patients that best suited their needs based on social determinants of health. These plans could be related to the amount of meals they were eating each day or even simply based on what the patient was able to understand from a health literacy component. I loved getting to interact with such a diverse group of patients each day which truly helped open my eyes to the resources we can offer the community members of Miami County here at Health Partners. Listening to the patients stories helped me truly build upon my skills of empathy to understand where these patients were coming from. By understanding the hardships of my patients, I could help guide my care to best benefit them.

These are practices that I hope to take with me into my everyday practice as a soon-to-be pharmacist. The clinic staff and volunteers are some of the most compassionate individuals that I have had the pleasure of working with. Each day they help bring light to the clinic to continue providing the best care for each patient that we encountered. This volunteer work truly made an impact on me this month that I hope to take with me for years to come as I continue to volunteer in healthcare and beyond. I loved having the opportunity to work so closely as a holistic healthcare team with the nursing volunteers and the nurse practitioners each day. By making recommendations alongside the nurse practitioners I was able to advance my clinical skills every day that I was in the clinic. Justin and the other volunteer Pharmacists and Pharmacy Residents were amazing and helped me feel more confident in asking questions to help better my own knowledge regarding best practices. I will never forget this memorable experience at Health Partners, and I hope that I can continue to provide this type of impactful care to all of my patients in the future.

Leno

Health Partners was my third rotation experience, but it was much different than my first two. At my previous sites, I had practically no patient interaction because I was either focused more on the business aspects of an independent pharmacy or the clinical aspects of an ICU. My time here at the clinic really reminded me of the importance of communication and relationships between a health care provider and a patient. This really pushed me outside of my comfort zone to get to know these patients and focus on who they are as a person rather than what appears on their medication list.

Over the course of the month, I was able to interact with so many different patients that presented with unique situations that brought them to the clinic. Often, patients were willing to dive right into personal details about their life and share what has been happening with them especially with all things COVID related. I realized then that this clinic was not only a way for patients to get physical support, but emotional support as well. Many in the population that is served do not have a great support system around them and with all the guidelines for social distancing, patients are more separated than ever. Their visits to the clinic become more than a checkup but a chance to interact and share their life with someone else that actually cares what happens to them. This really makes an impact on them because when we go back and sit and talk with them about why it is important to take their medication or implement a new lifestyle change, they are really listening to me and more willing to try and make a change or be adherent.

The other biggest takeaway I had was how other aspects of life played a role in a person’s well-being. It is quite obvious when thinking about it, but it is more eye opening when seeing patients not being able to come in because they did not have a ride or going without care/medications because they do not know how to apply for assistance. The clinic allows patients a one stop location where they can have truly holistic care and patients are not constantly being redirected or waiting in lines. Whether it is help with insurance, getting enough food, or refilling their medications, Health Partners showed me that effectively caring for a person sometimes requires attention not only to the medical aspects but the non-medical ones as well.