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I remember questioning my great-grandma one night about why she always overcooked every meal we had. She responded, “Because you never know who will be at your door and ask you for food and that person could unknowingly be an angel.” Ever since, I promised to myself to never be selfish and always be willing to give.
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The role has been defined and fine tuned by the numerous Patient Advocates in the service years before mine, and for most of my service term I felt fairly comfortable in my role. I knew the assistance programs well and felt confident in my ability to advocate for my patients in order to get them their needed medications at an affordable cost. I felt good about where I was and the service that I was doing. Insert a pandemic.
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Group Service Projects such as these give me the opportunity to both learn from and connect with my new community in Jacksonville. These outside service opportunities have allowed me to learn more about the issues regarding health access in northeast Florida that impact all age groups. As someone who will be attending medical school after my term of service is over, it is important for me to understand the barriers to access that many people face.
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Substance use disorders are widely misunderstood. The general assumption is that a substance use disorder is simply the result of poor personal choice and a lack of will of the individual suffering from this disease. This assumption is both false and detrimental to the individuals whose lives are drastically altered by a substance use disorder.
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"This is a short example of learning from the bottom up about the systemic inequalities which exist in our healthcare system. It takes much longer than an hour to build a relationship with a patient who has a barrier built on a long history of macro and microaggressions which led to this point. Being an NHC member gives you privileges not available to clinicians with even the purest of motives, such as spending long amounts of time with patients."
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There have been so many stories along the way of how partnerships such as this one, in which both sides have only the best for those they serve in mind, can bring joy, confidence, calmness to those in our community who may not otherwise find it in a dentist’s office.
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