Then & Now: Jonell Hudson helps lead student-run clinic at UAMS

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 645 views 

Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the June 10 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s  Forty Under 40 class.


Jonell Hudson returned to roles as clinical pharmacist and assistant professor for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Northwest after spending four years as a pharmacist at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville.

In 2009, the same positions of clinical pharmacist and assistant professor became available, and she returned to work at the Springdale Family Medical Center, a UAMS clinic in Springdale. The 51-year-old Fayetteville native spends more than three days weekly at the clinic seeing between 10 and 12 patients.

When the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named her to the Forty Under 40 class in 2001, Hudson worked in those positions for UAMS before the healthcare provider rebranded into regional programs. She worked at the provider’s Area Health Education Center until 2005, when she started in the pharmacy department at Washington Regional Medical Center working in the intensive care and critical care units. After returning to UAMS, Hudson was promoted to associate professor of pharmacy practice in 2014 and became co-director of the student-led North Street Clinic in 2015.

“I have a heart for teaching,” Hudson said. “This position allows me to teach, not just pharmacy students, but I get to interact with medical students and physical therapy students and all different types of students. Also, I have a real passion for outpatient therapy, helping people reach the goals that they have set for themselves. Whether it’s meeting their blood pressure goals, meeting their glucose goals if they have diabetes, just being the person in the clinic for them to help reach those goals.”

The free clinic at North Street and College Avenue was established in 2014 and is open Thursday afternoons. It’s focused on Marshallese residents, who often are without health insurance and have a high rate of diabetes, and because of demand, internal medicine residents will volunteer to see patients on other days.

As co-directors, she and Dr. Tom Schulz provide leadership to the 12-member board of directors, which includes students in the colleges of medicine, pharmacy and physical therapy. The students run the clinic, and Hudson serves as a preceptor for the pharmacy students. Over the 2017-18 academic year, 138 students worked at the clinic, and it served 400 patients and had a total of 1,800 patient encounters.

As an associate professor, Hudson teaches students in their final years of classwork. Students spend a month working with Hudson in her clinical practice, and she has two new students each month over six months. UAMS Northwest has between 21 and 30 students studying in the College of Pharmacy, or about 25% of the size of a class in the college. Students complete the first two years at UAMS in Little Rock and have the option to complete the third and fourth years in either Little Rock or Fayetteville.

Hudson also has been involved in research at UAMS Northwest and recently completed diabetes research for Marshallese patients. The research included creating a self-management module for diabetes patients and was published in 2019 after about five years of working on it.

“It’s been great,” she said. “It’s been really a phenomenal experience because you get to work with people from all over to create this module for them. And then, we went into their homes and provided it, and we got to see the outcomes as far as disease control goes. And there was improvement, and so that makes you feel like all your time and effort was worth that.”

The highlight of Hudson’s career has been her time with the student-led clinic because it combines all the work she likes to do, including educating students and patients and watching them grow. She hopes to see the clinic expand, possibly growing to more than Thursday afternoons and reaching more of the community with satellite locations. She’s also excited about the partnership between UAMS Northwest and the Brightwater culinary school, bringing students culinary medicine opportunities.

Hudson has held a pharmacy license since 1994 and has been a certified diabetes educator since 2015. As a volunteer, she offers health screenings with her students, and with First Church in Springdale, she prepares snack packs for elementary school students. She enjoys traveling, cooking and hosting holiday events. She and her husband, Bryan, have two children and reside in Springdale.