A Sensitive Subject

Contributed by: NCPA

Going into Fall 2017, NCPA Student Chapter at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy underwent a major transition in leadership.  This somewhat impacted our organizations extent of involvement in participating and assisting with events thus far.  Although off to a rocky start, our organizations progress and development culminated into assisting with the Remote Area Medical (RAM), a volunteer corporation.  It is a mobile clinic that provides free services such as prevention/screenings, medical, dental, vision, and education to patients interested in signing up.  This event took place on Saturday and Sunday, October 21st-22nd at the Bible Center School in Charleston, WV.  NCPA collaborated with the PDC organization to help screen over 90 people during this event.  About 15 total volunteers were involved in this aspect of screening. The event turned out to be a great success all around, along with our particular organization being able to offer help to a vast patient population.

NCPA primarily assisted with administering finger sticks to patients interested in being tested for Hepatitis C. It is known that Hep C is a serious concern, especially in this Charleston area and surrounding rural areas, due to the high incidence of drug abuse and injection drug users.  These screenings are essential in identifying patients who may need referred so to receive proper treatment and also crucial in terms of preventing the spread of Hep C and concern for public health safety. Our advisor was in charge of actually reading the results, however, our volunteers had the opportunity to ask each patient to fill out a form for the test they were requesting.  Then we’d just sit down with the patient and make small talk in order to make them feel more comfortable.  This was the chance to inquire about which finger they’d prefer us to use.  We also informed the patient that this test was not intended to be diagnostically conclusive.  We further explained, that it was just a preliminary test, for which the results could indicate to us who should be referred for further assessment.  This event led to us only referring a handful of patients.

In conclusion, this event provided the opportunity to hone our skills as future pharmacists in communicating with many different patients who may be uncomfortable with a situation or a conversation.  This helped us learn how to gently approach these types of topics which are sure to arise in future pharmacy practice.  We can help patients feel at ease in hopes they may provide us with more information so that we can provide them with optimal care.  As future pharmacists, we will encounter sensitive situations on a daily basis and need to be prepared to handle these times with composure and sensitivity.  This experience also strengthened our organization as a whole in providing us with skills in assisting with events.  In addition, this learning process provided us with structure in preparing for a greater involvement in future events.

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