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Pharmacy & Health Sciences Building
PA Program

Alumni Profile: Roberta Patterson ’05

Public Health is Her Passion

Roberta Patterson ’05 is a warm and comforting presence at the Bell Flower Clinic, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic, operated by the Marion County Public Health Department. The Clinic is located on the campus of Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis. The busy clinic sees 60-80 patients a day and Patterson and her staff strive to make each patient comfortable in what can be an anxiety producing visit.

Patterson enjoys the uniqueness of the STD specialty. This opportunity allows her to “fix something fairly quickly—make a diagnosis and provide treatment—often in the same visit.”  The nature of the clinic requires that providers become skilled at establishing an immediate rapport with patients. Patterson has learned to meet patients where they are, whether their visit is from a traumatic situation or the patient is a repeat visitor to the clinic. She has learned to “read patients quickly—everyone comes from a different place and their journey is unique.” Patterson appreciates how the public health specialty also allows for understanding of how issues affect a broader community—watching for trends and spikes and using that information for outreach and education to the community. The outreach team at Bell Flower visits venues such as bars, schools, jails, and festivals. At these sites, attendees have the opportunity for onsite testing, education, and treatment.

The seed to practice in public health was planted during a rotation at Bell Flower Clinic during Patterson’s clinical year at Butler. After graduating from Butler, she spent several years at an Internal Medicine practice developing her skills. She knew her passion was public health and made the transition to Bell Flower Clinic in 2012. Patterson recently was promoted to Clinical Service Coordinator where she manages a staff of PAs, RNs, NPs, and phlebotomists.   

Patterson recalls how Dr. Jennifer Snyder and Dr. John Lucich encouraged her during her moments of doubt while in PA school, as she was a new mother when she started the program. Her daughter, Jayna, was 8-months-old when Patterson started the program and her son, Nate, was born three days after finishing her last clinical exam. Patterson credits her husband, Fernando, of 20 years for his unwavering support, then and now.

Patterson is focused on family when not at the clinic. She keeps busy with her church and loves to sing. Her children’s extracurricular activities, the family pets, a dog and bird, allow little time for anything else. When she does get a break, she enjoys reading. This busy wife, mother, and PA is keeping it all in balance while making an impact in public health.