Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of Health Talk posts highlighting University of Minnesota health professional students’ stories about their experiences at the student-run Phillips Neighborhood Clinic. The posts mark the tenth anniversary of the clinic, which you can read more about here.
I’m very fortunate to have an opportunity to volunteer with the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic (PNC) as a physical therapy student and also to serve on its administrative board, which makes many of the executive decisions about the clinic. It has been great to develop my skills while helping the ever-growing population without access health care.
The greatest thing about my experience working with the PNC is ending the night knowing I made a difference for someone. Maybe I helped them gain control over their condition or relieved their pain with a manual therapy technique. It’s a great feeling.
So, has the PNC shaped my practice as a future physical therapist? Yes. This experience has fulfilled my continued desire to propagate volunteerism in others and myself and encouraged me to seek out more decisive, administrative roles.
Often times, there is ample opportunity for improvement in any clinic, but the status quo is maintained and nothing is done to create change. The PNC has provided me with an eagerness to improve healthcare access and healthcare quality by not being afraid to take on leadership roles and greater responsibility. It has been gratifying to make positive changes in the clinic and see better patient care and better interactions because of those changes.
The PNC also compliments my education by creating an environment of interprofessionalism. Everyone in health care talks about triaging, referrals, etc. What it really boils down to working as a team. It’s easy to fall into tunnel-vision care, where you treat patients as if you are the only clinician. The PNC has helped me develop comfort in working with all members of the team for the patient’s benefit, and it’s given me a deeper understanding of other medical professions and their areas of expertise.