We talked with Dr. Jewel Younge, our 2020 Clinical Preceptor of the Year, about her experiences at CommunityHealth, her background in education and healthcare, and what she gets out of working with us. Dr. Younge is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy and a Clinical Pharmacist with the University of Illinois Chicago Hospital and Health System. She calls both Hyde Park, Chicago and Normandy, St. Louis, Missouri are her home – depending on who you ask! Read on for some wisdom and inspiration from Dr. Younge.
In a few sentences, tell us more about yourself and your background!
I spent almost 20 years as some form of English or Humanities teacher and worked with every level of learner, from preschool to university. While teaching at City Colleges of Chicago, I was inspired by my students to learn something daringly new. I completed my pre-pharmacy studies right where I worked – Olive Harvey College – sitting shoulder to shoulder with my students. My colleagues encouraged and prepared me. I graduated from UIC College of Pharmacy in 2017. I completed my residency under Community Health volunteer pharmacist Sabah Hussein’s preceptorship.
Is there a specific area of healthcare you are interested in or healthcare experiences you are seeking?
I am very interested in health care communications.
If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
The power of food distribution and redistribution on a global scale.
Do you have any special talents/skills you’d like to share?
I am an excellent skater – roller skating, ice skating, inline, etc., and formerly the Hula Hoop Champion of The South Side YMCA.
Outside of volunteering with CommunityHealth, how do you like to spend your free time?
Volunteering, walking my dog, watching Judge shows, daydreaming, trying new things.
What is something that not a lot of people know about you?
I have a house in St. Louis that I turned into a museum. It contains 13 murals – 10 by artist Brock Seals and 2 by artists Sisters Clark, all St. Louis area artists.
If you could be one animal, what would you be and why?
I would be a lovebird, and live an idyllic life, adored by my forever friend and all who gaze upon me.
What does your ideal vacation look like?
A cottage in Jamaica, up in the hills, walking distance to nowhere, with my extended family coming and going (but never staying overly long).
Why and how did you begin volunteering at CommunityHealth?
The opportunity to work at CommunityHealth was presented to me as part of my job at UIC but, interestingly, I applied to the CSU Residency Program (where Sabah Hussein was my preceptor) because I wanted to work at the South West location of CommunityHealth. That year, the [Englewood] location closed — for good reasons (expansion of health insurance). I did not get that opportunity, so I am gratified to have found myself here, now, anyway.
Do you remember your first day? What surprised you?
It is impeccably clean at CommunityHealth, which is not something you can be guaranteed when working in a clinic that serves the underserved.
What has kept you volunteering all this time?
I love it here.
What is something you’ve learned from volunteering at CommunityHealth?
The impact of clinic coordinators and ‘receptionists’ on the quality, depth, and continuity of care that patients receive.
What has been your biggest takeaway from your time with CommunityHealth, and how does this impact your other life or career goals?
Be encouraged. I think of myself as a rogue provider, sometimes. What I realize when I am here is that I am not rogue. I am a reflection of my environment, and I am the provider that my community needs.
How has working with CommunityHealth influenced your perception of healthcare?
The continuity of care at CH is something I wish all of my patients could experience and, in fact, something I want for myself. Being ‘insured’ does not ensure superior care, unfortunately. Perhaps it is why we see the US spending so much on care and getting so little in return – it is not about how much we spend, it is about the care we offer.
Can you share an especially memorable moment working with a patient/fellow volunteer/staff member?
I miss hugs. I miss when every patient encounter ended with a hug. I remember every single hug.
Better, one of the CommunityHealth patients – probably feeling I needed a fashion upgrade – brought me some things that her daughter no longer liked to wear. The patient nailed my size because the clothes totally fit. They were for a younger woman, but I wore them to weekend events on occasion. Once I saw the patient out in the community while I was wearing one of her daughter’s shirts. She was beaming!
What does being a healthcare professional mean to you?
It is an extension of being a humanities teacher – it means providing people the tools and opportunities to reach self-actualization.
Why is volunteering important to you? What do you get out of it?
Volunteering gives me the opportunity to learn about the needs of my community, so I can be more responsive. It keeps me in touch with people who are more like where I am from than where I am. It keeps me active, and optimistic.
What advice would you give to a new volunteer at CommunityHealth?
Welcome and enjoy.
A warm CommunityHealth thank you (and virtual hug!) to Dr. Younge, a truly indispensable member of our team, beloved by staff and patients alike!