Working with RAM patients gave Marybeth Jones (right) a glimpse into the lives of people who don’t have easy access to health care.
While at RAM, I had many memorable experiences. I worked closely with a nurse, Aimee, over the course of the weekend. At first it seemed she was hesitant to let students work with her. She was unsure of what pharmacy students were capable of doing.
However, as the weekend progressed, her confidence in the knowledge that a pharmacist and a pharmacy student had seemed to be more clear. Over the weekend, I was comfortable asking her questions about what different blood pressure readings meant. Aimee also asked me many questions. I shared with her a new drug interaction I had learned the past week, and the next day she was asking me questions about it in order to implement her knowledge when she returned to practice.
She was very confident in my drug knowledge as a pharmacy student, but she also learned that pharmacy students and pharmacists are capable of doing clinical work such as blood pressure, blood sugar and pulse. Aimee taught me how to take a forearm blood pressure, which I had not been previously exposed to or asked to do. We both learned from each other in a short period of time spent together. It was very interesting to me to have an interprofessional experience with open minded health professionals and use each profession’s knowledge to achieve a goal of the best health care we could provide at RAM in Wise, Va.
Personally, the most important thing I took from this experience was seeing how caring the nurse, Aimee, that I worked with was with each and every patient. Topics like depression, anxiety and smoking have always been subjects that are hard for me to approach and address with patients. However, even with our limited time working with each patient, Aimee would make it a point to stop and ask them if they were OK, and if they were seeking help. I am definitely more comfortable approaching sensitive subjects with patients just from seeing how easy she made it by staying calm and not seeming judgmental. You never know what someone may be struggling through and how you can make a difference in their life.
While I had great interprofessional experiences, overall the patients were what mattered. It was heartbreaking to see these people waiting hours in the heat to receive basic health care that they could not afford. I felt like I got a small glimpse into life problems that these people deal with daily. The patient that truly caught my attention did not even know she had done so. While working with Aimee, who was in her mid-30s — after working with the patient to get her vitals and health history — when she walked away, Aimee looked at me and said that they were the same age. The patient looked almost 20 years older than Aimee.
Also during this experience I was asked to check blood pressures closer to the time the patient would be seen. Spending one-on-one time with these patients while they were nervously waiting really opened my eyes to the extremes these people were going to just to receive the health services that may seem simple to someone who has these things done annually, such as cleaning or restorative fillings. While checking these patients’ blood pressure, a few of the patients had readings that were too high to go in for their procedure. The nurse I was working under at this time was grateful for pharmacy students catching these blood pressures that may have put the patient in danger during a procedure, as they were receiving drugs that would further increase their blood pressure.