During the past two months, I was fortunate enough to shadow a physical therapist in my free time during the weekdays. My responsibilities included abiding by the therapist and talking with patients when they were doing certain conditioning exercises. They were always intrigued to talk to me and other volunteers and give us valuable lessons, such as about how important health is. They talked about how moving out when you go to college can affect your overall mental and physical conditions. When I came across the LifeSmarts OTC contest, I automatically saw this as an opportunity to give back some advice to the patients at Mr. Bouziotis office, since they have helped me so much. So over the weeks, I met over 50 different usual patients and gave them the printed infographic when they entered the office.
When creating the infographic, I personally didn’t know much about the safety aspect of Over the Counter Medicine. After deliberate research, I understood the fundamentals of the concept and realized the abuse of OTC medicines by adolescents is a rising patient safety problem, resulting in an alarming number of poisonings and emergency room visits. Because OTC medicines are readily available, many teenagers believe they are safe, even when used in higher-than-recommended amounts. Learning this, I immediately thought that parents play a huge role in providing these medications to the kids and even allocating money to purchase these medications. They are often unaware of the dangers these medications have and how important it is for them to oversee any kind of drug there are kids are taking. This is because of the common misconception that OTC drugs are not harmful, but as a well educated member of the Medical industry knows that abusing any drug can have detrimental effects on your health.
Knowing this problem in society, I planned on focusing on the niche of educating about over the counter medications for kids to elders. Talking about these sensitive topics and the effects of the abuse of OTC medicine with adults at my shadowing experience, I was able to become more understanding and mature. My communication skills and the ability to respond in a respectful and understanding way became stronger over the discussions. Talking to elders who have profound knowledge was a much different experience than researching at home by myself. They talked about their experience with adolescents and how they manage the medications they give to their kids. One particular case that I remember was when Katy, the patient, talked about how she mistakenly gave Chris, her child, a large amount of DextromethorphanI. This happened because she used 2 tablespoons instead of 2 tsp as stated on the drug label facts. Luckily, Chris didn’t develop any major medical problems. I clearly saw the gap in education about this certain topic. Often, when I asked, many patients couldn’t tell which one is larger, tsp or tbsp. Talking about facts on the infographic was usually a WOW moment for my target audience. Many even questioned the fact that one is not supposed to give more dosage if the child seemed “sicker”. However, after further discussions, we were able to come to a relative consensus with the assistance of Mr. Bouziotis, who was fact checking my stance. Through this experience, I became a detail oriented person who was able to make a small change in the community by educating the elders about the methods and ways to provide over the counter medications to children.