student pharmacists posts displayed by tag

Student Volunteers Bring Health Care to Uninsured Patients

On Nov. 19, student pharmacists from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy commenced their first educational volunteer session at the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) Health Clinic. Focused on the topics of hypertension and diabetes, the session offered student volunteers an opportunity to work alongside the clinic’s attending physician and provide important health education to uninsured patients. Students also provided patient counseling services and emphasized the importance of medication adherence.

Health Education Committee: A Programmatic Initiative

Throughout this year, members of the executive board for the Muslim Students and Scholars Association (MSSA), a Universitywide organization, have worked to plan, develop, and implement four key programmatic initiatives that aim to better our provision of spiritual and social support to individuals, starting right here at University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). One of the outreach initiatives established is the Health Education Committee, which arranges health services and education for underprivileged communities and hosts health fairs for local residents. As president of the MSSA, I researched communities we could potentially partner with and came across the ISB Health Clinic, which works to promote health and wellness by providing quality services, at no cost, to people without access to basic health care. I reached out to ISB operations personnel and proposed establishing a community partnership that would involve UMB students of various disciplines collaborating with the health care professionals at the ISB Health Clinic to optimize patient care.

Working with Medical Professionals and Patients

The ISB Council – including ISB President Ed Tori, MD, and ISB physicians Shahida Siddiqui, MD, Muhammad Younus, MD, and Yahya Shaikh, MD, – reviewed our proposal, discussed with us our scope of practice as students, and approved the collaboration.

Waleed Khan, a third-year student pharmacist, and I began our educational volunteer session at the clinic. We had the honor of working under the supervision of Siddiqui to provide effective instructional sessions to patients with hypertension and/or diabetes. After patients completed their consultation appointment with Siddiqui, they visited with Waleed and me to address any specific health-related questions they might have as well as gain a better understanding of their condition. Waleed and I put our multilingual skills to use as needed to ensure that patients understood the information we provided. We also developed concise and up-to-date infographics for each condition, evaluated the extent of each patient’s health literacy as related to his or her condition, and clarified their perceptions of their disease, as appropriate.

Looking Ahead

We are planning more educational volunteer sessions for the ISB Health Clinic, which will be held during clinic hours: Mondays, 6-8 p.m.; Wednesdays, 6-8 p.m.; and Sundays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. UMB students of all health disciplines are welcome to participate in this outreach initiative, and up to two students are able to volunteer during each time slot. Before each time slot, the two students leading the session are asked to study and create infographics focused on the disease state(s)/condition(s) designated for their week.

Interdisciplinary Health Fair on Dec. 9

Additionally, Younus has invited UMB students to collaborate with ISB and the Baltimore County Muslim Council (BCMC) to put together a large interdisciplinary health fair on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This will be a great opportunity for students to volunteer with a wide range of underserved communities, practice the health screening skills that they’ve learned, and network with a multitude of health care professionals. Students interested in volunteering to assist with this event can contact Saleem Ahmad at 410-369-6590 for details.

– Ghania Naeem, third-year student pharmacist

Ghania Naeem Community Service, For B'more, University LifeDecember 6, 20170 comments
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Pharmacy advocacy

Advocating for Pharmacists on the Hill

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Inside SOP, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

On May 3, pharmacists and student pharmacists from across the United States gathered on Capitol Hill to take part in the “ASCP Fly In” – an event held in conjunction with the annual American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) Forum. Pharmacy advocates, including seven representatives from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, brought attention to two bills currently under consideration this legislative session:

  • Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (R. 592/S. 109): This bill intends to revise provider status, as defined in the Social Security Act, to include pharmacists.
  • Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act (R. 1038/S. 413): This bill seeks to eliminate “clawback” fees required by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) after the original point-of-sale.

Advocating Not Only for the Profession, but for Patients

Although both bills could have a positive impact on the pharmacy profession if passed, their impact on patients cannot be understated. Pharmacists have long been recognized as valued members of the health care team; however, we often face restrictions for reimbursement of services because we are not recognized health care “providers.” By gaining provider status under the “Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act,” we would be able to transform health-system models and bolster efforts to provide better preventive patient care, thus improving health outcomes and reducing overall health care costs.

In addition, although the “clawback” fees targeted by the “Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act,” are obvious to community pharmacists (particularly those operating independent pharmacies), they usually go unseen by consumers. The higher medication cost originally set at the point-of-sale may not be the actual dollar amount that is reimbursed to the pharmacy. Despite PBMs paying out lower amounts after “clawback” fees, the original, higher claims dollars are what count toward patients’ total Medicare spending. These higher claims dollars cause patients to reach the Medicare coverage gap (also known as the “donut hole”) and subsequent catastrophic coverage level more quickly. For those patients who reach catastrophic coverage, 80 percent of their benefits coverage falls to the federal government and, as a result, taxpayers. If passed, this bill would require PBMs to disclose “clawback” fees at the point of sale, allowing pharmacists to appropriately structure their business models and patients to better understand their insurance coverage.

Understanding the Value of Advocacy as Student Pharmacists

Opportunities such as this to advocate on behalf of our profession are instrumental in helping student pharmacists apply what we have learned in the classroom to our future career endeavors. The Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum is continuously fine-tuned to reflect advances in pharmacy practice, which provides us with the knowledge and skills necessary to take on new patient care roles after graduation.

Beyond the science of medication use, student pharmacists learn clinical implications of disease, ways to positively influence patient behaviors, and means for optimizing medication adherence and health outcomes. In turn, we can often be a source for innovation in pharmacy practice and can use legislative advocacy as a form of self-determination. By vocalizing now where we want to be in the future, we will have the ability to develop practice settings that reflect our unique professional goals.
In addition, patients rely on pharmacists who understand the complex health care system to advocate on their behalf. Pharmacy advocates who work to pass bills like the “Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act” and “Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act” serve as stewards of the profession and champions for patient rights. Although legislators have the final say, as elected officials, they recognize the importance of receiving input from their constituency.

Making Your Voice Heard as a Health Care Advocate

The “Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act,” “Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act,” and other federal health care legislation can be followed at

Abigail Klutts Bulletin Board, Education, Global & Community Engagement, PeopleMay 16, 20170 comments
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Organ Donor Month

Student Pharmacists Celebrate Donate Life Month

As student pharmacists at the School of Pharmacy, we are always finding new ways to get involved in improving patient care and raising awareness about important public health topics. Throughout Donate Life Month in April, a group of us collaborated with the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation to members of the School and local community.

Understanding the Importance of Organ Donation

To kick off the month, we held a lightning round question competition on Facebook, where every day we posted a question about organ donation and other students accrued points by answering the question quickly and correctly. Reaching more than 500 people, this event conveyed the impact of organ donation. First-year student pharmacist Leena Doolabh won the competition, and even she was surprised at the new knowledge that she gained from participating, as she remarked, “I couldn’t believe that one individual can give life to up to eight other people!”

We also reached out to very diverse populations through tabling events in Pharmacy Hall, at the SMC Campus Center, the Spring Festival in West Baltimore, and various locations on campus. In addition to answering a question about organ donation for a prize, current donors shared why they chose to be organ donors, while others signed up to become donors if they felt ready to commit to that decision. From these events, it became apparent that many people are impacted by organ donation and transplantation. One woman at the Spring Festival even shared a heartbreaking story of her daughter’s best friend who passed away after her body rejected her transplanted kidney. A friend of mine, Teny Joseph, a first-year student pharmacist and coordinator of the Spring Festival, summarized our group’s feelings best when he said, “It was the unexpected moments like these that made our efforts with Donate Life Month worthwhile.”

One Organ Donor Can Make a HUGE Impact

The American Pharmacist Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) general body meeting marked the midpoint of Donate Life Month. In an activity held during the meeting, members were handed a picture of an organ or tissue to represent the organ or tissue they “received.” Through this exercise, we were able to help others understand that of the 120,000 people on the waiting list, each person is somebody’s mom, dad, child, or friend, and that one donor can save up to eight lives. Following a video about the process of organ donation, Idris Yakubu, PharmD, and Jacqueline Clark, PharmD, transplant pharmacy residents at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), joined the meeting to answer students’ questions about organ donation.

As part of another ongoing event, a story booth was displayed in the Ellen H. Yankellow Grand Atrium in Pharmacy Hall. The “Superhero Story Station” celebrated the stories of Morris Murray and Morgan Yoney. Murray, who was previously diagnosed with HIV, recently received a liver transplant. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at a young age, Yoney is still waiting for a match for a lung transplant. Her story can be found on Facebook under Morgan’s Army. Another member of my class, Paul Algire, told me how precious it was to him to have an opportunity to participate in Donate Life Month. “My partner’s liver transplant three years ago was the catalyst for me to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. It was great to see so many reminders of that this month,” he said.

Celebrating a Legacy of Organ Donation

Later that month, on April 27, a stormy Wednesday was transformed into a Hawaiian paradise in Pharmacy Hall. Students showed up in their most festive Hawaiian shirts to honor Matt Gabriel, a close friend of Ashley Fan, a third-year student pharmacist and coordinator of the event. Hawaiian Shirt Wednesday was a goofy tradition that Matt started during his time at Goucher College. He was heavily involved in the Goucher College community and also a member of the men’s lacrosse team. Unfortunately, on his way home one night, he was hit by a drunk driver and rushed to UMMC. Despite the medical team’s best efforts, Matt passed away on April 14, 2014. A liaison from the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland asked Matt’s family if they were willing to honor his wishes to be an organ donor. They agreed, and because of their generosity, his organs saved the lives of four people. Hawaiian Shirt Wednesday raised more than $300 for the Living Legacy Foundation.

All of these events were made possible by the dedicated work of students tirelessly advocating for a noble cause. Every step of the journey was motivated by the both heartwarming and heartbreaking stories from donors, recipients, and their friends and families. With generous support from the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, we reached more than 700 people through in-person events and social media, met 83 existing donors, and helped 11 new individuals sign up to become donors. But regardless of the numbers, we hope that our impact continues far beyond the quantifiable to help others understand the value of becoming an organ donor.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Inside SOP, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

Grace WoABAE, Collaboration, Community Service, Education, People, University Life, USGAMay 10, 20160 comments
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SOP Talent Competition Brings Student Innovation to the Forefront

Imagine being a patient who has been prescribed a new medication. You take the medication as prescribed and, while it relieves your initial symptoms, you begin to notice a new symptom that you think might be caused by the medication itself – a side effect. To whom do you turn? Your health care provider? Your local pharmacist? Your family members and friends? Not according to team M-PROVE, a group of five third-year student pharmacists at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy – including Jillian Aquino, Peter Nguyen, Justin Penzenstadler, David Tran, and Yoon Duk Hong – who took first place in the fourth annual “America’s Got Regulatory Science Talent” competition hosted by the University of Maryland’s Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (M-CERSI) on Feb. 5.

“Generally speaking, the first action that patients take when they believe they are experiencing an adverse reaction or side effect from a new medication is to conduct a Google search,” said Nguyen. “Our goal is to capitalize on patients’ fondness for Google to help them take a more proactive role in their health care and increase their participation in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) pharmacovigilance efforts.”

Expanding MedWatch Awareness

The FDA boasts one of the most rigorous drug approval processes in the world. One component of this process involves ongoing safety monitoring based on information collected about medications and other medical products once they are made available to the public. In 1993, the agency launched MedWatch, its safety information and adverse event reporting program, to encourage patients to report firsthand any adverse reactions that they believe were caused as a result of a medication or other medical product. However, due to a lack of public awareness about this program, as well as patients’ perceptions of the amount of time and effort that it might require to make a report, MedWatch is not widely used, capturing only an estimated one in 10 adverse events.

“Participation is inversely proportional to perceived effort,” explained Penzenstadler, who described the team’s proposal to the audience. “When patients first visit the MedWatch website and see the lengthy reporting form, they often feel intimidated. However, we found that MedWatch requires only a minimal amount of information from patients, including the medication name, the adverse reaction experienced, and a unique patient identifier. Our proposed solution would enhance the existing MedWatch program to help identify more adverse events in the community.”

Leveraging the Power of Google

To help improve the MedWatch program and address an important goal of the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Science and Innovation — harnessing diverse data through information sciences to improve health outcomes — the team suggested leveraging the power of the world’s most popular search engine to bring the MedWatch adverse event reporting form to the forefront of patients’ search results. According to the team’s proposal, when an individual uses Google to search for a medication or adverse events associated with that medication, one of the items that would appear in the right sidebar of his or her search results would be the MedWatch reporting form. Individuals could enter the required information and submit a report without leaving their search results.

“It is a simple addition to an already well-implemented feature that displays in the search results for all Google users,” said Tran, who described the significance and impact that the team’s proposal could have on patients’ health care. “The patient’s query would be automatically inputted into a MedWatch form and submitted directly to the FDA. It would maximize the number of patient-reported outcomes submitted to the FDA, as well as improve the agency’s overall vigilance efforts.”

Hong added, “Our ultimate goal is to protect public safety and well-being. Because our proposed solution will make more data available to the FDA, it will allow the agency to detect adverse events more quickly, as well as better identify those populations that are more at risk for developing those side effects.”

Judges Andrew Coop, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy; Julia Slejko, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) at the School; and Jace Jones, PhD, research assistant professor in PSC, agreed with the group, awarding them first place and the chance to meet with staff at the FDA to further discuss their proposal.

Bringing Pharmacists to the Forefront

Four teams competed in the talent competition this year, with second place awarded to Max Elixirs – a team of eight third-year student pharmacists who proposed creating a database that could serve as a resource for health care providers who prescribe biologics to their patients. The team also competed in the third annual “America’s Got Regulatory Science Talent” competition at the School in 2015 under the name One Correction, where members placed second again for their proposal to use QR codes to help educate patients about the potential risks associated with their medications.

“It means a great deal to be recognized as one of the top teams in the competition for the past two years,” says Joyce Yu, a third-year student pharmacist and team captain for Max Elixirs. “As student pharmacists, we are trained to educate both patients and health care providers about medication safety, and each year, this competition has afforded us a unique opportunity to develop innovative solutions to help address areas in patient and health care provider education where we feel gaps exist, allowing us to bring the role of pharmacists as leaders in medication information dissemination to the forefront.”

In addition to M-PROVE and Max Elixirs, FDAngerous – a seven-person team that included third- and fourth-year student pharmacists, as well as a graduate student from the PhD in PSC program – presented their proposal highlighting the benefits of transitioning to continuous manufacturing across the pharmaceutical industry, and New Generation Regulation – a team of four second-year student pharmacists – advocated to include a description and photo of medications on their prescription label.

“Pharmacists make up the second largest group of employees at the FDA, and the quality of the presentations delivered by our student pharmacists and biomedical scientists today underscores the value that these important health care professionals can add to that prestigious agency,” says James Polli, PhD, the Shangraw/Noxell Endowed Chair in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics at the School and co-principal investigator for M-CERSI. “When we established this competition four years ago, our goal was to provide more students with an opportunity to get involved and learn about regulatory science. Not only have we accomplished that goal, but the student teams continue to astonish our judges with the tremendous effort that they put into their presentations, making for a very fun competition each year.”

Malissa CarrollABAE, Collaboration, Contests, Education, People, Research, UMB News, University LifeFebruary 19, 20160 comments
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