Student Spotlight: How Katrin Henry took a deeper look into her community to further her own professional development

Third-year pharmacy student Katrin Henry (P'urhepecha) had a unique opportunity to involve herself in a community of professionals. During her 10-week Spanish Immersion Summer Internship (SISI) for CVS Health, part of her project requirement was to survey patients on their willingness to receive vaccines. She decided to take the survey one step further and research some questions she had developed while working there. With these answers, she created a research paper with her conclusions.

Working in the professional field, Henry developed many questions and inquiries about the relationship between healthcare workers and patients. She designed a survey that addressed issues such as what made patients return to CVS and what they valued in a health care provider.

An important specification that Henry sewed into her survey was the Yuma County demographic. She distinguished between Spanish speakers and non-Spanish speakers, the language that the patient’s healthcare professional speaks, and whether the patient was a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd generation in the US. All of these distinctions had an effect on the answers within the survey.

In her findings, the most prominent conclusion she developed was the value placed on a concept called “simpatía”. Although there is not a direct English translation, the word is closely synonymous to friendliness. 

She proves that statistically, customers who are Hispanic will return to CVS if they are treated well. This surprised Henry as the value placed on the friendliness of the CVS worker outweighed even the ability to speak Spanish to Spanish-speaking customers.

“They were really adamant on the treatment part. When given the choice, it didn’t matter if the pharmacist speaks English and the patient speaks Spanish. They’ll go if they are treated well.” Henry said.

On top of this, she also found that the more culturally aware the providers were, the more likely the patients were to return.

She feels that as a student she was able to see how independent mathematical research can answer questions she may have in her field. It was beneficial to experience watching those numbers unfold in front of her in order to point to the answers she needed to know. 

Although Spanish is not her first language, Henry values learning skills necessary to remove the language barrier in patient care. Henry took a Spanish medical terminology class through the College of Pharmacy that assisted her in answering questions from survey responders.

Henry found that this information furthered her power to make the patient experience better as their healthcare professional/pharmacist intern. The overall experience was something that allowed her to take what she was learning in the classroom and apply it in a real-world setting.

“The fact that I got to know the customer base or patient base at a personal level. I think that's priceless for me. It's personal growth, personal improvement,” she expressed.

Henry is an RHPP AHEC Scholar and also taking coursework in Health Administration. She is a pharmacist intern and assigned to the WeCARE team at CVS pharmacies within Yuma County. 


Story by: Gracie Lordi

If you would like to read Katrin Henry’s paper click here.