Caring for the Whole Patient
Published on 24 November 2015
As a PGY2 ambulatory care resident at the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, April Huang consults with patients about the health conditions they are working through — as well as other challenges they face.
“Many of my patients are low income and have low health literacy,” Huang says. “So they often have trouble with transportation, affording medications and health care supplies, or affording healthy foods. As pharmacists, we must keep these aspects in mind when managing patients’ conditions and medications.”
During Huang’s rotations at the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, she was able to provide care for low-income, uninsured, and indigent populations. That same passion for patient care is what led her to a STLCOP residency position.
“I found those past experiences to be so rewarding,” she says. “It was definitely a factor in choosing a residency program that was based at the St. Louis Department of Public Health.”
Patients at the St. Louis County Department of Public Health are usually referred for diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and smoking cessation management. For Huang, each day, and every patient, is different.
Recently, Huang met with a patient who had just started using insulin and had been referred for education on how to administer it. During the appointment, she also asked the patient if she was monitoring her blood sugar at home and discovered that she had gotten a new meter, but didn’t know how to use it. Huang helped her set up the new meter and demonstrated how to use it.
“This frequently occurs in appointments,” Huang explains, “where a patient is referred for a specific reason but additional education or management is needed in other areas as well. Every patient has different needs, and it’s up to me to figure out what it is and how to best meet each need.”
After her residency, Huang plans to practice in a family medicine or primary care setting and maintain a faculty position at a college of pharmacy. She’s certain that her STLCOP residency will help her get there. “As the job market becomes more competitive, it’s increasingly important to have postgraduate training,” she says. “I discovered ambulatory care during rotations, and I loved it so much that I decided to pursue a career in the field.”