This may be my last year at RAM as a pharmacy student, but next year will be the beginning of my volunteering efforts there as a licensed pharmacist. The past three years at RAM have taught me more about clinical skills, empathy and life than I could have ever imagined as a P1 when I first applied.
Then, I wouldn’t have known how much disparity still exists within our own state. Then, I wouldn’t have gained the confidence to take blood pressures while squatted uncomfortably in front of the patient amid all the noise. Then, I wouldn’t have known how to effectively counsel — no, motivate — patients for five minutes while they sit, anxiously awaiting their A1C and cholesterol readings. Then, I wouldn’t have been touched by each of their personal stories. Because ultimately, the care we provide must revolve around what our patients want, and if we don’t take the time to listen, we fail as health care providers.
Every year, I speak of the strong rapport between the pharmacy and nursing students at VCU, and this year was no different. The nursing students were invaluable to our team for their expertise in taking vitals as well as their willingness to step out of their comfort zone to help out with dispensing at the pharmacy. We enjoy interacting with them, and I hope that we continue to cultivate our interprofessional relationship in the years to come. University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy students also made a 10-hour trek down to Wise this year, and we loved collaborating with them along with Appalachian College of Pharmacy students.
The pharmacy influence at RAM is ubiquitous; we are heavily involved with patient care from its infancy to the very end. We are at every station where patient and interprofessional interactions are crucial: at the Grand Stands doing medication reconciliation and educating patients with a wellness quiz called “The Game” while they wait for their ticket to be called; at triage taking vitals alongside nurses and paramedics; at the A1C/cholesterol booth helping manage diabetes and cholesterol with Dr. [Evan] Sisson; at pre-med taking vitals and premedicating patients with the current Bon Secours and McGuire VA residents; at Becky’s Place encouraging people to stop smoking; at the pharmacy where mostly U.Va. and ACP pharmacists oversaw filling, counseling and immunizations; at the medicine tent where a few of our P4s were serving as formulary checkers for physicians.
The list above may seem extensive, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg; there is still so much more that pharmacists and pharmacy students can do at RAM. I am so proud of how our profession doesn’t hesitate filling in where there is a need. Sometimes this phrase is exhausted in academia in every class we are taught, but it really is true: Pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals. And truly, that is a huge privilege.
Till next year, RAM!