National Health Corps Philadelphia Blog

Although serving during a pandemic looks different than most years with not being able to meet others in the program or patients I am serving, I am grateful for what I have learned so far from my patients, peers, and mentors. I focus on what I have and have been able to do, rather than what I have ‘lost’ and have not been able to do.
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I tried to start my service term with no expectations of what was to come. This way I could only be pleasantly surprised by what was to come. However, with the pandemic worsening and my clinic’s abrupt closure, the surprises were not always happy ones.
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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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