Volunteering at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic

by Transpharmers

One of the coolest volunteering opportunities that the College of Pharmacy along with the Academic Health Center (we are one of the few Academic Health Centers in the US) offered for students is the opportunity to work at the free clinic called the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic.  We had to apply during the first year in pharmacy school and in some way it was like competitive volunteering because there are so many students from all the health professions including: mental health, nursing, medical, public health, nutrition, physical therapy, pharmacy and other health programs and we all wanted to help but the volunteering positions are limited due to space.  Lucky for the both of us, we got in and for the first year we helped in the role of Patient’s Advocate.

We operative out of a church on Mondays and Wednesdays in one of the most underserved and with the one the highest poverty rate per population in Minneapolis.   The mission of the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic (PNC) is to provide accessible, culturally appropriate, interdisciplinary health care services and education to reduce the burdens of poor medical access and raise the quality of life for our patients.  We also aim to provide health professional students with the skills they need to effectively and caringly serve people who are underinsured and unstably housed.

For the first year pharmacy student, there are a few roles we get to help with either as an Advocate-Interpreter, Advocate, Community Health Worker, Front Desk, Intake, and Clerk.  When we are a PD2, we will be trained as a Pharmaceutical Care Practitioner and will go into the exam room with the 2nd year Medical student to help gather pertinent patient information regarding primary reason for visit, past medical history, current medications, drug allergies, and other info to help bring about the best possible care and treatment for this patient.  For a 3rd year pharmacy student, we add one more duty of Medication Refill and Pharmaceutical Care Follow-Up.  There are more leadership position within the PNC and right now I also serve as one of the Clinic Coordinators, overseeing everything that is going on in clinic during the nights that we are open, and as PNC Management Associate.

I was in clinic last night as a Pharmaceutical Care Practitioner.  I the exam room, while talking to the patient, I try to focus on these components of their medication use: Indication, Effectiveness, Safety, and Convenience.  Questions I would have to consider when trying to treat the patient and pose to the care team were, “Does the patient have a condition that is treatable with medication(s)? Is drug therapy an appropriate way to manage a particular condition? Is the medication being used achieving appropriate goals? Is the patient satisfied with the therapeutic effects of the medication? Is the current medication the most efficient, evidence-based product available? Would use of the particular drug cause harm to the patient given his or her other medical conditions and medications? Does the benefit of medication use outweigh the risk? Does the use of the medication interrupt the lifestyle of the patient? Is the dosage form convenient? Does the cost of the medication preclude its use? Will the patient experience side effects that limit the use of the product?”

In the end, along with the help of a pharmacist preceptor, I assist with medication selection, dosing, monitoring and education for the patient case that we are helping with.  Some other tasks includes verify clinic formulary and recommend affordable agents, and as a 3rd year I can also administer vaccinations, conduct patient interviews for medication refills, ad follow-up by phone with every patient that receives a prescription or needs to return to the clinic.

I have around 4-5 shifts per semester and while it may be a bit overwhelming with the school workload, work, other volunteering, and family duties, I feel so blessed and happy given this wonderful opportunity to save lives and apply what I am learning in school in a practical real life setting.  Take for example, last night we had a patient that had some questions about his INR.  We just had and exam in Pharmacotherapy on Warfarin and INR so I was able to help answer some questions and concerns as well as helping the patient to increase his INR through some nonpharmacologic  approaches!  I felt so happy that I was able to recalled what I have learned in class to this case and help the patient to the best of our capability.

This is PNC’s website, http://www.phillips.neighborhoodclinic.com/, and here are some pictures of PNC, both from last night and some from upper classmen from the previous years.  Enjoy!

-Phat

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2 Comments to “Volunteering at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic”

  1. Thanks for the great post Phat! We’ve shared it on the Minnesota Area Health Education Center Facebook page- here’s a link if you would like to check it out!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Minnesota-AHEC/149117408432980?sk=wall

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