Student Perspective: Natalie

February 28, 2018

Often, when we think of redefining patient-centered care we imagine a new shinny product or procedure that advances the field of healthcare in a different direction.  Sometimes, though, the best improvements come from getting back to basics.  Natalie, our February pharmacy extern from Ohio Northern University, gave us here a good remind of that fact during her month with us at the Clinic.  She shares here in the latest edition of Student Perspective her take on patient-centered care at Health Partners:  

A model that many medical field students, including myself, are taught throughout school is patient-centered care. In my experiences in the medical world thus far, I have seen providers interact and “breeze over” what they see as a simple condition, when in fact, it may be life-altering for that individual patient. Oftentimes, these providers are weighed down with caring for as many patients as they can and end up treating patients as they present at one exact moment in time. At Health Partners, patients are given the time they need to talk and discover the root of their health issues with a wonderful team of providers who address not only urgent symptoms at present, but also the bigger picture. That to me, is truly practicing patient-centered care.

Spending time at Health Partners Free Clinic has opened my eyes to the number of people who cannot find adequate and affordable healthcare right here in the United States, and even in a place so close to home. Never could I have imagined that patients, who have health insurance, are unable to find an area provider who will accept their insurance. Entirely mind blowing. Having the opportunity to help these patients has really opened my eyes to the obstacles that patients may have to jump through just to receive care that I have always assumed to be a normal and simplified process.

Not only do I feel that I have touched the lives of the patients at Health Partners, I feel that they have strengthened the roots from which my pharmacy career started–wanting to care for patients. Knowing that you can make such a substantial impact on even just one person, is one of the most rewarding experiences. Oftentimes, even taking the time to listen to a patient means the world to them. Understanding their story and how they have come to the need of Health Partners makes such a huge impact on providing the extraordinary quality of care at this clinic. At Health Partners, quality time is spend with each patient and each problem the patient may be having is addressed. Naturally, these problems are not fixed overnight or with just a single visit, but problems are addressed promptly and in an attainable manner.

During my time at Health Partners, I have witnessed health, social, and spiritual, support from this clinic. Although my role as a pharmacy student on this team primarily involved assisting patients in managing their disease states through education and providing medications, I have learned that my favorite part about being on this team involves helping patients beyond these simple measures and by assisting patients in finding good health insurance plans, providing access to organizations who can assist patients with housing and food, and simply just being present for a patient emotionally. To be able to help those who are less fortunate or have fallen into a spout of bad luck, dishevelment, and extreme heartache, this team engulfs those who are hurting and lost to do what they can to reassemble and mend broken lives, hearts, homes, and health.

As my profession of pharmacy advances, I will hold on to what Health Partners has taught me. Addressing the patient’s biggest concern and addressing it holistically, whether it be the passing of a close loved one, losing his or her job, or having a disease that substantially limits everyday activities, is the most important thing you can do for a patient at any given time. Until a patient is able to acquire the resources and mentality he or she needs to successfully manage a disease, nothing else will make an impact.