The DAWN Clinic: Interprofessional Collaboration in Action
As I write this, the DAWN Clinic will open for its first patients in 18 days, two hours and 28 minutes. The leadership team anxiously buzzes around each another at our meeting where we’re tying up loose ends and generating solutions. The tangible excitement in the room is felt by all as we finish up our respective projects.
At the risk of sounding cliché, it really does seem like just yesterday that our Colorado PCP team held the first meeting to discuss launching the free clinic. Students of the medical, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, and dental schools convene at our meetings to bring change to our surrounding community, educational institution, and the greater field of primary care.
At one of our early meetings about the clinic, we divided into different workgroups to take on the various tasks involved in opening a student-run free clinic. It was just an idea, that became a movement which garnered the support of the Dayton Opportunity Center and the Fields Foundation. And now we are days from opening the doors of the Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs (DAWN) Clinic to the underserved.
Back then, we were a group of many students from many professions. I am amazed at how little I understood about my colleagues’ professions back then – before we became a high-functioning, interdisciplinary team.
As the leader of the Pharmacy and Procurement workgroup, I was tasked with obtaining all the essential items for the clinic. How was I supposed to do this? I was a second-year pharmacy student. I didn’t know what a primary care clinic needed in order to function. I remember sitting with my co-leader Katie, trying to develop a list for the clinic, we sat there thinking “exam room table… otoscope… stethoscope… cotton balls… that’s it, right?” We knew we had a challenge and that we had to overcome it.
We were presented with something we were not comfortable with. But as we were taught in pharmacy school and through our work with PCP, we sought out resources and contacts to help us. We started off with the WHO guidelines for primary care clinic supplies and continuously adjusted it as we compared it to other clinics’ lists. For example, after A.F. Williams Family Medicine Center provided us with the inventory list of their current supplies, we sat down as a small group to update our own list. After one week, we had a complete list. But now we had to actually find donors to give us the items on the list. We approached clinics asking if they would be willing to donate any items. They in turn referred us to other clinics and organizations. Then we were introduced to ClinicNet and Doctor’s Care. They put us in contact with the vast network they had established to get us the items we needed. A clinic that was closing in Littleton, CO, donated roughly $15,000 worth of equipment to us. When we met with the doctor to pick up the donation, he stopped us before we left and told us he believes in our cause and our initiative. It is these experiences that demonstrate what we are capable of as students and as a team.
The problems of the underserved community around us are within our reach, and as health care professionals, we have a social responsibility to rise to the challenge and enact change. As students of diverse disciplines, we have the combined resources to bring together the knowledge, skills and, yes, equipment and supplies necessary to care for this population. This has truly been an interdisciplinary project. While moving closer to opening this clinic, I have learned more every day about what the different health professions are capable of. Together, we are bringing change to our campus and our community.