Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacy Education Shifts the Paradigm

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacy Education Shifts the Paradigm

Article excerpt

STUDENT CORNER

When I went home for winter break at the end of my first semester in pharmacy school, I found that my friends who were nursing students knew more names and uses of drugs than I did. This startled me until I realized that I was being exposed to far more than just this one aspect of pharmacy practice. Here are a few highlights of my experience so far.

Public health

On only our fourth day of class, firstyear pharmacy and medical students were bussed out to rural Minnesota communities. We spent a day at different locations in our respective towns, talking with people about each community's characteristics and needs. Back at school, we made presentations about the towns we visited, focusing on eight critical assessment domains. Then we engaged in a semester-long project, using similar criteria to evaluate our own hometowns.

Pharmacists have great potential to make an impact in their communities. This starts with identifying underserved populations and unmet needs, and then taking steps to address them.

In Duluth, for example, one unique area of attention is the underserved Native American population. In areas highly populated with Spanish speakers, increasing numbers of pharmacy schools are adding Pharmacy Spanish to their curricula to enable future pharmacists to provide better care for these patients.

Whether the focus is on educating young children about safe use of medications, providing programs on chug abuse, or putting on flu clinics and health fairs, across the country examples abound to show that meeting community needs is a core component of every pharmacy school curriculum.

Healthcare system

Early on, when I worked as a retail pharmacy technician, I found myself overwhelmed when I attempted to plug a patient's insurance card information into the computer to bill for a prescription. After I helplessly watched the pharmacist do it for me, I asked whether I would learn how to do that in pharmacy school. He chuckled and said, "Of course not."

As if navigating the healthcare system weren't difficult enough for trained professionals, patients with far less experience are burdened with this challenge every day. We are taught that as pharmacists, we have a duty to advocate for patients dealing with this system.

First-semester courses have included both the history and contemporary state of the U. …

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