Many Saturdays during second year I worked at a free clinic that caters to under-insured patients. The vast majority of our patients are there for hypertension and diabetes follow up. Great experience for first and second year students. First year students often shadow the second years to get some tips on interviewing patients. I would like to think I helped show the first timer following me this day how to keep your cool when a patient says something very unexpected...
Me: Hello Ms. Brown what brings you in today?
Ms. Brown: Well, I heard you all can help me with my meds. I never been here before.
Me: Ok, I see you brought your bottles with you. Is that all the medication you take?
Ms. Brown: Yes.
Me: Great. I know we carry some of these but it looks like these two are psych meds which we don't have. Do you have somewhere you can get these ones?
Ms. Brown: Yes, I go to (other clinic) and they help me there but only with these two medications.
Me: Yes, they are a mental health clinic while we are a medical clinic. I just want to be sure you can get them. Can you tell me what health problems you have?
Ms. Brown: High blood pressure, back pain and schizophrenia.
Me: Do you know what type of schizophrenia?
Ms. Brown: The type where I hear voices. I hear them all the time. I hear them now.
(At this point the first year medical student is looking at me with some panic. Mind you, they have not had psychology as it is a second year class and this is their first time at our clinic.)
Me: (Without missing a beat) You say you hear the voices now. Are they telling you anything? To hurt yourself or others?
Ms. Brown: Oh no, nothing like that. They just talking like normal people. Mostly about the weather!
We continue the rest of the interview normally. Ms. Brown gets her hypertension medications filled and the first year student says they plan on returning to work at the clinic again. They also admit to me that they thought all schizophrenics had violent hallucinations so it was nice to learn that is not always the case. Breaking down the stigma of mental disease is something I am defiantly passionate about and I like to think this one little moment in time helped for that student. (And maybe people more now that I am sharing the story).
Thanks for reading!! ~#102~