Community Service Means Improved Public Health
Assistant Professor Chrystian Pereira’s interest in community service was sparked in urban and rural settings. As an intern at Hennepin County Medical Center, he discovered the critical role of an urban safety net hospital.
“I loved working in a place that had so few resources available, but still managed to provide top-notch care,” said Pereira.
During a rural fourth-year pharmacy rotation, Pereira was placed at Renville County Hospitals & Clinics – Olivia Clinic in southwestern Minnesota. There, he explored the role of the pharmacist in occupational health and provided care in a migrant farmworkers’ clinic.
“They had never had a pharmacist work with the team of social workers, nurses and doctors,” said Pereira. “It was an amazing experience—one that changed my life.”
Faculty members took notice of Pereira’s dedication to community service and nominated him for a public health award for which he received national recognition. Since then, his commitment to community
service has grown as he sees the positive difference that access to care makes in diverse, underserved and vulnerable populations.
Pereira currently practices at Smiley’s Clinic in Minneapolis, a clinic of the University’s Family Medicine residency training program. There, he serves as a clinical pharmacist and educator. He also trains pharmacy students and residents through direct patient contact, assessment and evaluation as part of the care team in the medical home model.
“Smiley’s Clinic has a long and proud history and is an optimal setting to help students apply evidence-based care to patients with limited resources,” said Pereira. “Part of the joy in working there is the diversity of cultures and helping those underrepresented in society and who are vulnerable to medical complications.”
Pereira’s commitment to community service extends beyond clinic and classroom settings. He serves as one of the pharmacy leads for the Pharmaceutical Cache Strike Team of the University’s Medical Reserve Corps—an organization formed in 2004 to aid in emergency response and public health initiatives on the campus and in the broader community.
Pereira is perhaps most proud of his work as an advisor to the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic (PNC)—a free clinic started by students to serve residents of the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis. At PNC, Pereira’s background in providing great care with limited financial resources is put to good use.
“For people who are stuck and don’t have any place to go, this bridges the gap,” said Pereira. “Through interprofessional teams, volunteers give great care to patients who otherwise would not have access. I am so impressed with our pharmacy students at the college and the creativity and initiative they demonstrate to improve the health of our communities.”