Fellow for Life Collin Dorner Learns that no Impact is too Small

By: Javacia Harris Bowser

When Collin Dorner and his project partner Eric Mussell began their Albert Schweitzer Fellowship they wanted to find a way to do in-depth, one-on-one work with each resident at the Changed Lives Christian Center (CLCC) and Foundry Farm (FF).

For their project, Collin and Eric managed logistics for monthly clinics held at CLCC and FF. During these clinics Collin administered shots and they both collected vitals for residents. They also assisted with refills of medications for the residents at both sites. Their primary goal was to meet with residents who were struggling with medication adherence to figure out why they weren’t taking their medication consistently and to determine if they were suffering from any organ damage or other complications because of lack of medication adherence.

“We had high hopes,” Collin says, explaining that he and Eric had hoped to meet frequently and individually with each resident.

But Collin, who works full time at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and is in school at UAB pursuing an acute care nurse practitioner degree, says there simply weren’t enough hours in the day for he and Eric to do everything they had planned. Additionally, the turnover at the Foundry Farm made following up with some patients difficult.

But being a successful Fellow means being willing and able to pivot.

 “I think that a lot of people have these huge goals in mind,” Collin says, “but it’s all about the small steps.”

Over the course of the project, 158 Changed Lives Mobile Clinic visits occurred. Collin and Eric were able to meet with many residents regarding medication adherence and started medication adherence counseling with select polypharmacy residents. Because many chronic illnesses such as hypertension can affect a person’s eyesight, Collin and Eric also partnered with the UAB School of Optometry so that the residents could receive retinal exams.

And along the way, Collin and Eric also simply were able to brighten the day of the residents.

“They love to see us every single time we go,” Collin says. “They’re so excited to see us and likewise, we’re excited to be there. So it just warms our hearts every single time.”

Both Collin and Eric were volunteering with the Changed Lives Mobile Clinic before their ASF project and hope to continue to do so. Collin started his volunteer work at the clinic in part because it was being managed by UAB faculty and ASF mentors Dr. Deborah Bowers and Dr. Emily Patton.

“When I was in nursing school, they made the biggest impact on me,” Collin says. “They were the most caring and you could tell that they really cared for the community around them.”

In his nursing career and beyond, Collin hopes to find ways big and small to help his patients and serve his community.

“No matter how many people you impact, if you impacted somebody, you still changed their life in a meaningful way,” Collin says. “That’s a big takeaway from [our project]. I still think that we made an impact no matter how small it was.”