The Important of Service and Volunteerism: Patience with Patients by Brooke Panzarella

One of the greatest skills gained or strengthened  as an AmeriCorps member is patience. My position as an AmeriCorps member is to be a Patient Advocate in the Patient Assistance Program at Health Center 10 for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. My role is to apply patients for prescription programs that supply medication for a free or reduced cost to those who are uninsured or underinsured.

The importance of service and volunteerism became apparent through experiences that required me to have patience. Many of the patients that I interact with do not speak English or speak very little English. One patient approached my office needing assistance with their medication. I found a program that allowed the patient to visit an outside pharmacy. English was not the patient’s native language, but they could communicate well enough and understand conversations. I explained the situation to the patient and they understood what the next steps were to obtain the medication. A few days later the patient returned to my office. The patient told me that they visited the outside pharmacy. They said the pharmacy could not understand what they were supposed to do for them. I knew that if I could understand and work with this patient, then it should have been possible for the pharmacy to do the same. It was at this moment that I realized had the pharmacy had more patience with the patient, then they would have understood that they were there to pick up medication with a pharmacy card. I called the pharmacy directly and explained the situation. I felt it was my responsibility to advocate for this patient since the pharmacy was not willing to take the time to understand them. I was able to successfully communicate with the pharmacy and the patient was able to obtain their medication.

Imagine if everyone chose to dismiss this patient because English was not his first language. As a result, this patient would not have been able to get the medical assistance that was necessary. This experience emphasized to me that with time and patience we can help those in need which further solidifies the importance of service and volunteerism.


Thumbnail Image description: Blue background, 6 hands connected by 3 documents, a medical record, a patient chart and a patient test result.
Body Image description: Orange clipart pill bottle with a white label and white lid outlined in black