The past year has undoubtedly been arduous. At times, it was tough to picture if anything advantageous would arise. As a final-year student pharmacist studying at Wake Forest Baptist Health, I want to share what I found fulfilling this year in hopes of emboldening others to search for similar opportunities.
Wake Forest Baptist Health invites select student pharmacists from various institutions in the state of North Carolina to complete all their advanced pharmacy practice experiences at its hospital. This is an amazing opportunity to gain hospital experience, participate in a multidisciplinary environment, and strengthen fundamental knowledge before becoming a clinician. I highly recommend looking within your program or state to see if similar opportunities exist.
The highlight of this experience has been my involvement with the Delivering Equal Access to Care (DEAC) Clinic, a student-run operation for the underserved population in and around Winston-Salem. As the clinic’s pharmacy director, I have gained firsthand experience in providing care to the underserved, which has provided the opportunity for self-reflection and growth.
In light of the pandemic, the clinic was forced to close its doors temporarily, until the executive board decided to implement telehealth to continue offering services during this heinous time. Through this experience, we have been able to continue serving these patients in some capacity while we develop a plan to safely reopen the clinic. I have performed medication reconciliations, counseled patients, and helped minimize medication costs.
I have also built wonderful relationships with these patients as we have helped with nonmedical needs such as delivering food and other necessities. I have seen the difficulties they face in finding health care as they try to overcome financial, transportation, and support barriers.
Our communities need the love
If there is one thing I have learned from this program, it is that we, as students, can provide an overabundance of compassion and empathy in addition to our clinical knowledge. My goal is to continue to find places to support these patients. I want to be involved and get to know the community I am serving. The opportunity to grow as a person while helping those who do not have secure access to care is extraordinary.
I encourage you to search for opportunities to serve others in need. See if your institution or community has a free clinic or similar services. Our communities need the love and knowledge we can provide. It will be one of the most fulfilling and joyful things you can do, even in such a challenging time as this.