Interprofessional education is a term NEOMED students start hearing the day they walk onto campus. What it means, says third-year College of Medicine student Haley Coleman, is that medicine students learn to work as a team with students in the College of Pharmacy.
Students like Coleman, who were on the ground floor to plan the SOAR Student-Run Free Clinic, helped develop a model in which pharmacy students collaborate with medical students for patient visits.
SOAR is now in its second year serving the underserved of Portage County for Saturday clinic, using a fully equipped physician office in the NEOMED Education and Wellness (NEW) Center. There, medicine and pharmacy students work to solve the health problems and questions faced by people who lack access to care.
“We’ll go into the room as a medical team and we’ll have the pharmacy members participate in the conversation. Once we come out of our visit, we present the case and we have the pharmacy students weigh in on everything,’’ says Coleman.
“When a patient has too many medications, we have the pharmacy students go in and go through every single medication and make sure there’s nothing that we can’t take away. It’s something to make their health care a little easier. It’s been really fun to work with the pharmacy students.
“I never really realized how helpful they were going to be, but now going into the Clinic when you go see a patient and come out, we’re like, ‘They’re on 15 medications, what are the contraindications of them?’ The pharmacy students know right away,’’ says Coleman, adding, “I want to be a family medicine doctor and I definitely want a pharmacist with me.”
Students Lead the Way
Coleman has learned to think as a team, but also for herself, while at NEOMED.
“If you have something you want to do, like research or if you want to work for a free clinic or do mission work for a whole year—I think as long as you’re doing something that’s going to help you in your career in medicine, you just have to find the right faculty to support you, then they’ll definitely help you achieve any dreams you want.’’
In addition to working at the SOAR clinic, Coleman had another powerful experience, as a member of the student organization called Hispanic Community Outreach Group (HCOG). Through HCOG, she was introduced to the Hartville Migrant Ministry’s free medical clinic. Her interest in migrant health led her and her colleague Neha Chavali (M4) to apply for— and receive—a grant from the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to dig deeper into how to help these visiting farm workers fight obesity, and to develop an exercise program that they wanted.
Time to Grow
Coleman credits NEOMED with making it possible to grow professionally and equip herself with skills that are not typically gained through the typical medical school curriculum during her time off between second and third year.
Because of her involvement in the SOAR clinic and the supportive Department of Family and Community Medicine faculty, she was able to secure funding for a year-long AmeriCorps VISTA position through the Ohio Association of Free Clinics. “I was able to continue to build up the SOAR clinic, ensure it was sustainable, and do something meaningful during my year between M2 and M3,” says Coleman.
“The Department of Family and Community Medicine really, really supports their students and they supported our idea for the Clinic. Dr. (Amy) Lee supported our idea at the Hartville Migrant Clinic,’’ says Coleman. “I think that all the faculty support has led me towards my career choice of primary care.”