National Health Corps Philadelphia Blog

One of the recurring themes throughout the year has been growth. As I mentioned, I lived the typical, busy college student schedule before entering the service term. Once I started serving at my host site, I realized that this was no longer needed to feel “accomplished” or “busy”. Sometimes a complicated fifteen-minute encounter trying to help a patient who is uninsured, speaks a different language than me, and has just heard a life altering diagnosis of diabetes is enough to exhaust someone. There was not a textbook or syllabus to guide in these interactions, so I quickly had to grow and be confident I could do my part efficiently and correctly.
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Focusing on the process rather than just completing tasks in position descriptions helped me feel more connected and purposeful in my role. And it’s pretty simple: spending time getting to know clients through conversation or learning basic greetings in their language, or connecting with case managers to address together the hardships families are facing.
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The role has been defined and fine tuned by the numerous Patient Advocates in the service years before mine, and for most of my service term I felt fairly comfortable in my role. I knew the assistance programs well and felt confident in my ability to advocate for my patients in order to get them their needed medications at an affordable cost. I felt good about where I was and the service that I was doing. Insert a pandemic.
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There have been so many stories along the way of how partnerships such as this one, in which both sides have only the best for those they serve in mind, can bring joy, confidence, calmness to those in our community who may not otherwise find it in a dentist’s office.
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My service term has provided me with the opportunity to directly support community members and organizations within school-based health centers (SBHCs) and more volunteer settings. One of the most impactful experiences from the very beginning of my service in one of the SBHCs has been witnessing the interactions between the school nurses I serve beside and the scholars and families we support.
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