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Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy
Recognizing One of Our Own
by Paige Vortman, P-3, ICHP Historian Committee
As student pharmacists we play a vital role in healing others. I am currently in my third year at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy and am I fortunate to take part in ICHP and gain lifelong experiences through several community service activities. It is incredible to see ICHP and other organizations at Midwestern give so much back to our community through considerable student involvement. I had the pleasure of interviewing second-year pharmacy student and our ICHP membership chair, Jenny Lin, on recently receiving the Chicago Schweitzer Fellowship Award for her outstanding community service efforts.
The Schweitzer Fellowship focuses on community service for future healthcare professionals. The fellowship accepts 30 graduate healthcare students from the Chicagoland area, including two pharmacy students. The accepted students are required to partner with an organization, design a community project, and execute the project with at least 150 direct service hours.
Jenny is partnered with Midwest Asian Healthcare Association (MAHA). When asked about her project, Jenny responded, “I will be educating patients with diabetes and hypertension on the importance of lifestyle modifications. I have pamphlets that cater to the Chinese cuisine and diet that will help [patients] better understand what types of food they can eat.” Additionally, she will host exercise classes for up to ten participants followed by brief educational sessions on dietary needs. According to Jenny, “These classes are meant to be more intimate for relationship building and will involve incentives such as portion plates and gift cards to grocery stores.”
I asked Jenny how she became involved in community service, to which she replied that she has been on mission trips to Taiwan and Honduras to teach English. She has also gone to Over-The-Rhine, Ohio several times to work with inner-city children and teenagers and Clarkston, Georgia to work with refugees. She stated, “Each of these places have been so different in terms of patient population, yet so similar in the types of needs that people have.” Jenny said she became involved in community service because she feels that she learns much more than she can give. “The population I’ve worked with has opened my eyes to disparities and barriers that exist within our society, and I have learned a lot about being patient, flexible, empathetic, and humble.”
As a first-year student, Jenny became involved with both the APhA-MTM clinics and MAHA clinics where she learned more about how to serve others as a student pharmacist. According to Jenny, “It was intimidating at first, because I felt so unconfident with my knowledge, but I’ve definitely learned a lot through those clinics. There is always something to learn not only from doing community service but also interacting with people who come from very different backgrounds or with different cultural beliefs.”
Jenny’s favorite part of participating in community service is having the opportunity to laugh with the patients. She described, “Recently, an elderly woman came to see me at MAHA. She spoke a different dialect than I did but we were still able to communicate. She asked for a portion plate and I only had one so I couldn’t give it to her so I drew it out. My drawing was terrible and could have probably been mistaken for a seven-year-old’s drawing. She saw my picture, and she laughed. She then grabbed my hand and very affectionately thanked me for drawing a portion plate out for her.” For Jenny, it’s moments like this that she loves. “[The patient] was so thankful for a picture (not even the nicest one!) of a portion plate.”
Jenny plans to continue her commitment to community service in her future career. She stated, “I think it will be awesome for pharmacists to play a huge role in fighting to end health disparities. There is a need, and if we are equipped, then we should go for it!” Jenny said the Schweitzer Fellowship opens a myriad of doors and opportunities for her to equip herself as a better pharmacist and person. “We learn a great deal about social injustice, health disparities, different types of people groups, and methods of reaching out to these groups.” Furthermore, the network allows her to meet with other future health care professionals who are also passionate about community service. “It’s a pretty great support system that this fellowship has built for us, and I hope to continue utilizing it throughout my career.”