Student Perspective: Michelle

June 29, 2017

Year in and year out for the past four years, the Clinic has had a pharmacy student present to learn and assist with patient care.  After a while, we can take for granted the unique experience that these students have when buckling in with us for a month at a time.  For our June pharmacy extern, Michelle, this month wasn’t just the first time she had been in a free clinic, but it was also the first rotation site she had ever been with!  You better believe she is leaving us with a unique Student Perspective:

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

As a Wapakoneta, Ohio native I have grown up hearing that quote by Neil Armstrong.   That quote spoken from my hometown’s claim to fame was obviously well thought out over a long period of time and reflection and can certainly apply to most of life’s journey.

Going along with that quote, sometimes the first step is the hardest, but it is almost always rewarding.  All the firsts in your life seem scary: the first day of kindergarten, the first time up to bat, the first step onto a roller-coaster, the first step off the high dive, the first time giving a presentation in front of your coworkers. The first step is always the toughest and most nerve racking no matter what it is that you’re setting out to do, and yet once it’s over, that’s it, you’ve done it, and then you can move on. So, while the first step may be the hardest, it is also the most important in doing anything in this life. Walking into Health Partners on my first day of my first ever pharmacy rotation I did not know what to expect, even though I had been well prepared for that moment.   I learned that I can’t always anticipate what is going to happen in any interaction.

Working at Health Partners made me view pharmacy through a different perspective, not just as the woman or man behind the counter.  I was able to get the hands-on patient care experience and sit down and hear what the patients are going through.  I could take their HgA1c and blood glucose. I could take their blood pressure, and if it was high, I could ask what problems they had taking their medication.  I got to apply what I learned in school the past 5 years to real life.  The hardest part was making the transition from what I read in a book to interpreting therapy for each individual patient. Being able to look at the whole patient chart and discuss medication options with nursing students, the nurse practitioner and the doctor made us a team.

Here a hard first step for a patient might be coming into the clinic to improve their health and admitting they have nowhere else to turn.  It was captivating to see how every patient brings with them their own story, a unique personality, and a diverse background that determines how advice is heard.  Connecting with a patient and having them share their story gives insight as to why they haven’t been taking their medications. I saw the importance of non-verbal communication during interactions with patients and how body language plays a role in patient care just as much as spoken words. At the clinic I learned clinical skills within a God-fearing environment. Working on a healthcare team taught me to be an attentive listener, to be an effective mediator, to communicate my views, problem-solve, compromise, and at times stand by my values and beliefs.

Spending quality one-on-one time with patients made me realize that often patients are struggling.  They must take the first step to come to the clinic to seek quality health care and to open up to a social worker or a nurse about the problems in their lives.  When I ask how often they miss a medication, the patient tells you they are going through a loss or some life struggle and we can give them reassurances.  The staff here is always open and understanding.  We are a safe place to be and we will not just look at our patients and their basic health needs.  In this unique nurturing environment patients are made to feel at home, and they have taken the first step to giant leaps of wellness.