Remote Area Medical was a life-changing experience, one that I will keep a special place for in my heart. The patients were all so grateful and appreciative of everything that we did for them. They were in high spirits throughout the whole day, even though most of them had been camping outside all night just to secure a decent spot in line. This put things into perspective while working in the community setting; usually I have patients that are easily perturbed when we don’t crank out their prescriptions in under 15 minutes on a busy day.
There were so many different interactions with patients and health care providers alike that I had while I was at RAM, but most of them revolve around providing the optimum patient care. One instance was when I was at the pre-med station, where pharmacy was playing a major role in pre-medicating patients with amoxicillin and ibuprofen before dental extraction/surgery. I was making rounds with my ibuprofen when I happened upon one gentleman who had a yellowish cast to his skin and eyes. He did not seem to be responding as well as the other patients. I immediately thought that he had hepatitis, but his triage papers did not say so. I asked him if he had hepatitis, and he finally admitted that he had A and B. I alerted our residents, Rose and Bethany, and they were able to relay this information to the dentists who were responsible for pre-checking all the patients. The gentleman was then sent to the medical tent for further check-up on his condition.
Another time was when I was at the smoking cessation booth and I had lured some foot traffic our way by standing in front of our booth, holding the face mold of the chewing tobacco cancer victim. A gentleman walked right up to me and started asking me about the face mold. I showed him the progression of cancer for the victim and the toll it took on his facial features. I gave the back story to the face mold, letting him know that the victim was a world class athlete who had a bad habit of chewing snuff. I guess it hit home because he started asking me about smoking cessation, and I happily provided him with all the information that he needed. He looked me right in the eye at the very end of our conversation and said, “It won’t be easy, but I’ll try.” I thought that was awesome.
I’m not a morning person, but waking up at 4:45 every morning to be on site by 5:15 wasn’t even bothering me by the second morning we were at Wise. I was running like a well-oiled machine by 6 a.m., going around and doing everything from health testings to counseling patients when they picked up their medications.
I have already thought about coming back to RAM every year I can spare as a pharmacist when I graduate in 2016. I know that all of our patients were extremely thankful for our work, but they didn’t know that they were also rewarding me with the pleasure of working with them. I enjoyed every single moment that I helped them and I’m thankful that I got to be part of such a great team assembled by Natalie (Nguyen), Erika (Lambert) and Dr. Sisson.