Team Uganda: Clinic Day 4
6:00 am is when it all begins every day. The word of the day was vulnerability and as the week has progressed, we have definitely tested each other’s vulnerability in multiple different ways. We continuously put trust in each other to provide care, love, and support to not only patients but to each other even though we only just met five days ago.
6:52 am is roll call with numbers 1 through 38 (they saved the best for last, numbers 37 and 38 right here) and we’re off. Today the clinic started off a little bumpy, and just like our drive, we worked through it as a team. Pharmacy is the last stop on a patient’s journey through the clinic so we get to sit back and enjoy the hustle and bustle that is happening around us. From the moment team members first greet patients outside, every team member is happy to provide a helping hand in any way they can with a smile on their face. To our right, patients come through the door into the clinic to get their height, weight, and vitals checked in triage. Next stop is meeting with the physicians who end up sending the pharmacy a list of the patient’s new medications. After their provider visit, patients can head to lab work, glasses, physical therapy, family planning, and prayer, but they always end at the pharmacy.
The pharmacy within the clinic is a highly organized operation, just like any pharmacy within the United States strives to be. The patient’s registration form is dropped off in the pharmacy dropbox and our amazing students start filling the prescriptions. After the prescription is filled by the technicians, the prescriptions are placed in a box that signals to us, two P4 pharmacy students, that the prescription is ready to be checked.
We are two P4, or final year, pharmacy students at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy in Columbia, South Carolina on an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotation in Masindi, Uganda for the whole month of August! We arrived here before the outreach team on August 3 and are staying after the team until August 30, working at Masinidi Kitara Medical Center (MKMC).
In the pharmacy at outreach, we function as the pharmacists. While checking prescriptions, we often interact with the providers to discuss treatment strategies or dosing of medications. Finally, after the prescription has been checked, it’s ready to be delivered to the patient by our pharmacy distributors. The distributors check in with us to ask about any counseling points before going outside to the pharmacy waiting area, with a translator in tow. The counseling portion of the pharmacy process is a very unique experience at the clinic. We need to use translators because the people of Uganda speak a plethora of languages. To counsel a patient, we first tell the translator what we want them to tell the patient and then the translator relays the message. The method of teach-back in this setting is very complicated because sometimes the translator answers the question for the patient instead of making sure the patient understands the directions for their own medications.
When the patient receives their prescriptions at the end of the clinic process, it is truly so rewarding to see the smiles on their faces. The entire outreach clinic is an incredible experience because although we all come from different backgrounds and may speak different languages, our differences are so minuscule when looking at the big picture. At the end of the day, we are all the same – whether you’re a patient, provider, nurse, physical therapist, non-medical volunteer, or in the pharmacy with us – we all come together for one common goal.
Abby Takacs, PharmD Candidate 2020, Pennsylvania
Holly Goetz, PharmD Candidate 2020, New York