September 20, 2019
Michaela Nowell is a second-year student pharmacist at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy. She and a group of other student pharmacists volunteered at the Mississippi Dental Association’s Mission of Mercy Clinic held in Greenwood, Mississippi, over the summer. She detailed her experience below.
Earlier this summer, the Mississippi Dental Association and the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy collaborated to provide free dental care to underserved communities in the Mississippi Delta. The Mississippi Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic in Greenwood, Mississippi, featured UMMC dental students and faculty, as well as Mississippi licensed dentists performing tooth fillings, restorations, extractions and minor oral surgeries. The team of 170 dentists, hygienists, dental students, dental hygiene students, pharmacists, student pharmacists and volunteers served 588 patients and filled 486 prescriptions.
Student pharmacists provided antibiotics and pain medications to keep patients comfortable after treatment at no cost. Student pharmacists were able to work interprofessionally with dentists, dental students and dental hygiene students to provide this care.
Mark Donald, MSMOM chair and former president of the MDA, organized this event, the third of its kind, with Lauren Bloodworth, clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice, serving as the pharmacy lead. Student pharmacists covered the medical triage area, taking blood pressures, blood glucose levels and medical histories. Dental students and dental hygiene students performed dental triage, making sure patients could be safely cared for in this specific environment. Dental and dental hygiene students took X-rays, numbed patients and performed necessary procedures.
After their care was complete, patients were able to fill prescriptions at an onsite charity pharmacy. Student pharmacists provided counseling on the medications once they were filled and given to the patients. As patients exited, they received oral health education and a care package of toothbrushes and toothpaste from dental hygiene students and other volunteers.
The emphasis on interprofessional collaboration for students in both professional programs made this event a valuable experience for all students involved. As a student pharmacist starting my second year of pharmacy school, this experience was eye-opening and showed me just how much cooperation between different health care professionals can make a difference in a real-life setting. Being the niece of a dentist, I enjoyed seeing dentists I hadn’t seen since I was much younger and working alongside these role models in a way I wouldn’t have been able to if not for this event.
We were able to serve a diverse population of patients, many of whom spoke little to no English. Thanks to volunteer translators, calling patients’ English speaking family members and using translation apps, we found creative ways to adequately communicate despite not having a common language. This event allowed us as student pharmacists to work in new settings and encounter new health care situations. The MSMOM was an amazing experience that I will never forget, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to participate.