Education - Page 12 - Serving the community impacts student perspectives

- Page 12
Serving the community impacts student perspectives
Serving the community impacts student perspectives

In her native Louisiana, Megan Gilliam was always interested in health care accessibility. In fact, one of her first jobs was as a pharmacy technician at home. The former biochemistry student at Louisiana State University determined that professional pharmacy fit her strengths when it came to a career choice.

She chose Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy after connecting with her interviewer and realizing it was the place where she would be “more than a student, where I could grow as a professional.”

In her third year at the pharmacy school, Gilliam reflects on the many community experiences available through the program that help students make a difference while they are in school. In her first year, she taught residents the proper method for hand-washing to reduce the incidence of disease. During the second year, she and other students worked in community pharmacies, whether in retail drug stores, grocery stores or at a health system. This year, she’s working with individual patients, developing relationships as she collects health information, helps them understand their medications, and opens the lines of communication with the caregiver and physician through a longitudinal care program.

Throughout her schooling, Gilliam has worked with Hope Springs, focusing on patients in Baltimore living with HIV or AIDS to help them with the pharmaceutical and other health issues.

“We concentrate on how patients are doing mentally, getting their meals, how they are acclimating, living with the family and even how to tell their partners,” she says. “I’ve seen a lot of different aspects of how the organization serves the community.”

Gilliam explains that these experiences help her understand about patients, the different obstacles they face and their everyday concerns. She’s been part of support groups discussing food access, healthy meals on a budget, health information and more.

The program has opened her eyes to the needs of the community and she has re-evaluated her career path, changing her goals from hospital or clinical pharmacy to more of a public health role.

“It’s not what I expected,” she says. “But it’s innately something I wanted because I really enjoy patient interaction. None of the faculty has lost sight that they are here to serve people.” •