Category: Student organizations
Archambault Scholarship recipient Hess on public health: “You just feel so welcome at VCU”
Danielle Hess, a third-year Pharm.D. student at VCU School of Pharmacy, received the prestigious George Archambault Scholarship at APhA’s annual meeting in Seattle earlier this year. The scholarship is awarded to a student who demonstrates leadership and professional experiences that align with the United States Public Health Service core values of service to the underserved, integrity, leadership and academics.
We spoke to her about her passion for public health and how the School of Pharmacy has helped her pursue it.
What got you interested in public health?
I grew up on a Christmas tree farm and my parents and grandparents always said, “You’ve got to work really hard for what you want in life and nothing’s going to be handed to you.”
Then on every mission trip I went on, I saw a lot of people working really hard, but still not getting what they need to survive or to be truly healthy. These people are doing all they can; they just don’t have the resources to get where they need to be. I really loved supplying those resources and going into a community and trying to empower them rather than just, “Here’s a bunch of free stuff, good luck.”
When we went to Honduras with HOMBRE [the Humanitarian Outreach Medical Brigade Relief Effort, a nonprofit organization at VCU] after my first year, we took water purification systems. In years past, they had given them out and said, this is what you can purify your water with. And when they came back the next year, they were being used as flower pots. That’s when they realized something was missing.
When I went, they did it again, and I said, “How about we go to the homes and ask them, can you show me how to use this right now?” We realized a lot of them still didn’t know how. So we spent the rest of that day going around and making sure they all knew how to use the system. That was more empowering them and making sure they could use it in their life.
Talk about your formal work in public health.
I earned a global health certificate in undergrad, and with the mission trips and the research that I did in Thailand through that, I saw a lot of what public health can do in different communities, especially in underserved ones. With that certificate, I had an opportunity to apply to the WHO in Switzerland. I completed an internship at the World Health Organization before starting pharmacy school. It was amazing to see what different people are doing all across the world.
After that internship, I knew I needed to put public health into pharmacy during my career. Then, the U.S. Public Health Service came up my P1 year through a recommendation by Dr. Peron [faculty member Emily Peron, Pharm.D.]. I reached out to a pharmacist who had worked at the Gallup Indian Medical Center, and we spoke for about 45 minutes about it and she encouraged me to apply to their externship.
Through working at the Indian Health Service, I saw that what they’re doing in the community is an awesome way to put public health into pharmacy. You’re seeing patients all day, but then you are going into the community and helping them with things that supplement their medicines. Because if they don’t have the things they need at home, medicines aren’t solving everything.
It gives you the opportunity to see someone’s life as a whole. If they come into clinic you might say, “OK, let’s increase your metformin and let’s get your diabetes under control.” Whereas in public health, we are looking at all aspects of their life, making sure that they have food security, making sure that their life as a whole is optimal to make sure their health can be as well. That’s what I like about it. You’re seeing the bigger picture of people’s lives and then the population as a whole.
How has the school helped you pursue your passion of public health?
At the beginning, it’s intimidating because you don’t exactly know where to go. I just paid attention to what all my professors were doing. That’s why Dr. Peron was the first one I reached out to after I heard that she goes on HOMBRE trips, she’s interested in global health, and she’s out in the community doing things. I contacted her and asked, “Can we sit down and talk about how you got to where you are now?”
She shared many global and public health ideas with me and then it led to reaching out to Dean O [Associate Dean K.C. Ogbonna]. I heard about his work with the Richmond Health and Wellness program and was encouraged to go talk to him. He showed me how he helped set up that whole program and much of the behind the scenes work. It’s amazing how willing everyone is to help you find your path.
– they truly dedicate themselves to students.
Anybody else in particular you want to shout out to?
Dr. [Abigale] Matulewicz wrote my letter of recommendation for the scholarship, and she has been very instrumental in helping me improve my leadership skills through APhA-ASP throughout my time at VCU.
Because ambulatory care has great opportunities for incorporating public health into pharmacy, I reached out to Dr. [Evan] Sisson and Dr. [Dave] Dixon this past year. They took me on as an elective student for both semesters, where I was able to see patients at the Center for Healthy Hearts every week and complete a research project. With their mentorship, I was able to witness many ways a pharmacist can go above and beyond to make sure patients are receiving optimal care, including finding access for those uninsured and making sure that patients are able to afford the medications they are prescribed.
P-3 David Doan inaugurates an inspiring new Aux Label series
By Christian Ruiz
Auxiliary Label Staff
From the author: Each person in my class is remarkable in his or her own way, especially to have come this far in pharmacy school. However, a dozen of them have inspired me in one way or another, and I wanted to share their secrets to success because I believe that we all can, and should, grow immensely as people and as pharmacists in this school.
So for each article in this series titled “OTC Advice” I will interview and write about a classmate who has inspired me over the past three years, whether it was inside the classroom, outside the classroom, or both. I consider their advice OTC — “over the counter” — since no prescription is necessary; just open a web browser and spend a few minutes reading.
I learned so much from these classmates over the years. I hope you enjoy what I learned. — Christian Ruiz
David Doan, a third-year pharmacy student at the VCU School of Pharmacy, has amazed me in numerous ways. He has served as class president for his first two years in pharmacy school and is now the student body president, and he has served in other leadership positions in various student organizations. Above all, he consistently embodies professionalism and friendliness, always offering a smile, a laugh, or a refreshing conversation even on our roughest days.
If I could summarize his following advice in a few words, it would be this: We all want to see each other succeed, whether it be through learning through mentors, learning a variety of different skills, or learning how to solve problems.
So say “yes” to each challenge that the faculty, staff and your own classmates offer as learning opportunities. You might be impressed with how much you can grow as a person and as a pharmacist.
Auxiliary Label: Why did you apply to pharmacy school?
David Doan: I chose to apply to pharmacy school because I had great respect for one of my mentors when I was working at the NIH [National Institutes of Health] who happened to be a pharmacist. I saw his job and what he was doing, and I wanted to do that. He had a Pharm.D. and an MBA and he ran a research lab at the NIH, and it’s something that I could see myself doing.
What did you like most about what he did at the lab?
I liked the variety of things that were going on at the lab, whether it be support for clinical trials, his own research in prostate cancer, or learning leadership techniques. It really taught me a lot.
What is your favorite thing about pharmacy school so far?
I just love to learn. Every single day you walk through these doors, you can learn so many different things, connect with so many different people, and build relationships. The school allows you to do that, and you walk out of these doors when you finish as a better person and a great pharmacist.
If you could be any faculty or staff member in the school, who would you be and why?
Dr. Gravatt. I think she’s amazing. She’s so well-rounded, she provides all of her students with the knowledge and skills, and she shares her experiences us and tries to make us better. She challenges us. She’s a great mentor. And she genuinely wants to see all of us succeed.
How do you think you have grown as a student and/or a pharmacist over the last three years?
Outside of the clinical aspects — learning pharmacy itself — it’s really about the ability to interact with people and with patients. It’s more about the soft skills. Being a pharmacist is more than just medications – you’re a professional problem-solver. Whether it be logistics, medication issues, or clinical situations, you’re the go-to for being that problem solver, and I think that’s what I’ve learned most.
If you could give your P1 self the most important advice or lesson you have learned so far in pharmacy school, what would it be and why?
Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. Be someone that always says yes. The more opportunities that you seek out and go for, the more doors will open. And cherish the time you have here; it’s short, and after this, it’s real life. So, take advantage of it, and take advantage of the opportunities that the School gives you because they provide so many.
And don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Try to grow as much as possible. The more that you grow here, the better pharmacist you’ll be and the better care you’ll be able to provide your future patients.
Auxiliary Label is a student-created blog examining pharmacy life, education and research at the VCU School of Pharmacy from a student perspective. It is overseen by Greg Weatherford, the school’s director of communications. Contact him here.
Auxiliary Label: Pharmacy students take part in community care
By Michael Ong
Auxiliary Label Staff
I arrived for my afternoon shift at the Charles City County Fair around 1 p.m. With the forecast of rain later on in the day, I hadn’t expected many people to attend. But the large parking lot was full.
As I was getting out of my car, a mother pushing a stroller waved at me. She was walking away from a row of tents toward their own car parked just spaces from mine.
I had driven to Charles City County, about 40 miles from Richmond, to participate in a health booth. The prevalence of health disparity in the access and availability of care is a rapidly growing problem. Urban centers such as Richmond boast a nationally renowned medical center, yet pockets of disparity can be found across the city. Into the surrounding counties and municipalities, health access further diminishes.
Rural areas like Charles City County have some of the highest rates of rural poverty and lack of available healthcare. Through partnerships and opportunities such as the Charles City County Fair, VCU, through its educators and student volunteerism, is addressing this vast community need.
As I walked to the fair, I saw a row of tents pitched on the practice field, filled with food and homemade jewelry, soaps, and other sundries. Under a large white tent, families sat entertained by a performer juggling on top of a unicycle. Nearby was another tent selling boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts and raffles to be drawn at end of the day.
The VCU booth at the Charles City County Fair is a long tradition and work of dedication anchored by Patricia Slattum, Pharm.D., herself a Charles City County resident. The health outreach and preventative services are great resources for a smaller county with limited health-awareness opportunities for its residents.
The fair-goers proved the perfect target population for the group organizing the event, the VCU chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA). Its motto for serving the underserved is well lived in the variety of events at which its students volunteer. From rural fairs like the Charles City County Fair to back-to-school immunization events with Crossover Clinic in downtown Richmond to advocating for safe HIV testing at the annual VA PrideFest on Richmond’s Brown’s Island, SNPhA engages its student members to be invested in its greater Richmond community.
Partnering with Slattum, SNPhA is able to provide blood-pressure readings and blood-glucose checks for fair attendees. Alongside these point-of-care services, we had another full table littered with a library of education pamphlets available for anyone to pick up.
While I was at the health booth we had a variety of people visit our tables. Some, like an older lady, chose not to get a reading but chatted with several of our volunteers about her recent hospital stay. She even had a small photo album with her pictures of the during the stay.
Others, like a tribal dancer from the local Chickahominy tribe, asked for everything we could provide. All were open to casual conversations about their lives, their health and were open ears to the information we provided.
As a student, volunteer experiences like these form a fundamental aspect of the overall education VCU School of Pharmacy offers. Being able to take traditional lecture learning into a more clinical setting multiplies student learning. In first year we learn how to take vitals such as blood pressure. In our second year we are trained on how to read glucose meters. All for just this situation — providing front-line care to our neighbors.
Late in the afternoon, a father and son stopped by the tables. The father had wanted to get his blood pressure checked and the son, a high school student, sat down with him. After some cajoling from his father, the son let one of our student volunteers take his blood pressure.
The father’s reading was elevated, which after talking with him we were expecting. However, the son’s was slightly above the normal range for his age. This was a wonderful teaching moment for the VCU student to reinforce what she learned in her cardiology module and suggest some lifestyle choices for the pair.
After handing them some informational pamphlets on hypertension, it was endearing to hear them bicker about exercise; the dad telling his son they were going running in the morning from now on and the son rebutting with how he gets enough exercise with the football team.
Near the end of the day, after having seeing and helping several dozen people, I took the time to do one last run outside to indulge in a warm plateful of funnel cake. The line was long and the wind had picked up significantly while I was inside the gym. But it wasn’t a fair until I enjoyed the fried dough and powdered sugar.
And in between bites, while putting away our excess brochures and other supplies, I smiled and waved back at a lady we had helped earlier in the afternoon.
Auxiliary Label is a student-created blog examining pharmacy life, education and research at the VCU School of Pharmacy from a student perspective. It is overseen by Greg Weatherford, the school’s director of communications. Contact him here.
Pharmacy students present at pharmacoeconomics conference, win best poster award
By Purva Parab (VCU-ISPOR Chapter President 2017-2018)
Hrishikesh Kale, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the VCU School of Pharmacy, received the Best Student Poster Research Presentation Award at the recent conference of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research.
The top 10 percent of posters out of 1,600 submitted were considered for the award this year; three including Kale received the award. Kale won for his poster, “Economic Burden of Renal Cell Carcinoma among Older Adults in the Targeted Therapy Era.” His adviser is Dr. Norman Carroll.
Other VCU School of Pharmacy students presenting posters at the conference include second-year master’s student Purva Parab (“Patterns of Use and Quality of Life Associated with the Utilization of Antidepressants amongst Cancer Patients with Depression”), whose adviser is Dr. Pramit Nadpara; and Yiran Zhang (“Transplanting Kidneys from HCV Positive Donors Into HCV Negative Recipients in the Era of Direct Acting Antiviral Therapy: A Cost Effectiveness Analysis”), a second-year VCU-Indivior fellow currently working with Carroll.
Graduate students from the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science (Division of Pharmacoeconomics and Health Outcomes) and the members of the VCU chapter of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research represent the VCU School of Pharmacy every year and exhibit their research at the ISPOR international annual conference. (Read about some previous years’ conferences here and here.)
This year’s annual meeting was held in Baltimore. More than 4,000 people from more than 40 countries attended the conference, whose theme was “Real-World Evidence, Digital Health, and the New Landscape for Health Decision Making.”
The VCU-ISPOR team included Kale, Parab, Zhang and Ph.D. student Elena Fernandez.
VCU-ISPOR students chapter also hosted a VCU alumni dinner at the conference. Parab, the president of VCU-ISPOR chapter, received funding for the alumni dinner from the VCU development office.
“We would like to thank [former School of Pharmacy development director] Ellen Carfagno for arranging the funds for the dinner,” Parab said. “It was great!”
‘Medicinal chemistry and John Andrako prepared us well for the real world of pharmacy’
Thanks to Keith Kittinger for sharing news of his recent visit, along with fellow classmate Bill Nicholson, to see one of their former professors, John Andrako. (All three are pictured below from the 1972 edition of the X-Ray yearbook.)
In mid-March, VCU School of Pharmacy alumni Bill Nicholson and Keith Kittinger (both B.S. ’72) took a trip down memory lane, visiting John Andrako at his home in Midlothian, Va. Kittinger is vice president of Bremo Pharmacy and pharmacist and manager for Bremo Long Term Care Pharmacy, and Nicholson retired as pharmacy manager for the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Andrako, who formerly served on the School of Pharmacy’s pharmaceutical chemistry (now medicinal chemistry) faculty and as assistant dean of the school, retired in 1991 as VCU’s interim vice president for health sciences.
Nicholson and Kittinger also knew Andrako through Kappa Psi fraternity, as Andrako was a Kappa Psi brother at Rutgers.
Kittinger reports, “Dr. Andrako is 93 and still going strong. He shared many stories about his time in World War II at the Battle of the Bulge and the European theater, where he served as a medic.”
Andrako also shared his history of growing up in New Jersey, attending Rutgers, where he graduated from the College of Pharmacy (now known as the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy) and earned his master’s degree in medicinal chemistry. He later attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he got his Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. He joined the MCV School of Pharmacy faculty in 1956.
Historical postscript: “A History of the UNC School of Pharmacy,” by George H. Cocolas, notes that the UNC school lost some of its finest faculty in 1956: “Walter Hartung elected voluntary retirement from UNC in 1956 after accepting a faculty position at the Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy. John Andrako, an assistant professor in pharmaceutical chemistry for one year, resigned also to accept a faculty position at the Medical College of Virginia that same year. Chancellor [Robert B.] House, on receiving the resignations of Drs. Hartung and Andrako, said, “The School of Pharmacy has lost its primary scholar and best teacher.”
Hickey one of 11 Pharm.D.s nationwide to win ASHP Student Leadership Award
VCU School of Pharmacy fourth-year Pharm.D. student Erin Hickey is one of 11 students nationwide to be recognized with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists 2017 Student Leadership Award.
Students who receive the award are selected for their achievements in campus and pharmacy practice leadership, including professional work experience, internships and other accomplishments.
Hickey is part of ASHP’s Career Development and Education Advisory Group. At the School of Pharmacy, her activities have included serving as president of the Student Chapter of the Virginia Society of Health-System Pharmacists and as student vice chair of the VSHP Mentoring Program for the state. She is a member of the Beta Nu chapter of Phi Lambda Sigma pharmacy leadership society and the Lambda chapter of the Rho Chi academic honor society in pharmacy. She has participated in the school’s Student Pharmacist Policy and Advocacy Forum and has worked with the Remote Area Medical event in Wise County, Va.
An inpatient pharmacy intern for the VCU Health System, Hickey served as a PCAT course instructor and pharmacy lab teaching assistant for the university’s Summer Academic Enrichment Program (of which she is an alumna). She has conducted research, during her tenure at the school, on the perception of pharmacy practice with Ron Ballentine and Erika Dumke (formerly of the VCU Division for Health Sciences Diversity), and in bone marrow transplantation with Kelly Hawks. Following graduation, Hickey will enter a PGY1 residency at University of Kentucky Healthcare in Lexington.
Sponsored by ASHP and the ASHP Research and Education Foundation, the Student Leadership Award honors student members in their second through fourth years of pharmacy school. The award winners receive a plaque, an ASHP drug information reference library and a $2,000 cash award.
The other winners are students at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences — Albany Campus, Medical University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Northeast Ohio Medical University, The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy (two), Temple University School of Pharmacy, University of California, San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy and Western University of Health Sciences.
Executive residency programs have their advantages
Thanks to fourth-year Pharm.D. student Kalyann Kauv for providing a look at an executive residency program for Pharm.D. graduates, in this case at the National Community Pharmacists Association. She wrote this piece as part of her managed care rotation earlier this year.
The National Community Pharmacists Association, previously known as the National Association of Retail Druggists, was founded in 1898 and currently represents 22,000 independent pharmacies nationwide. These pharmacies dispense almost 50 percent of the nation’s retail prescription medications.
As an organization, the NCPA is committed to independent pharmacies to provide the resources a pharmacist needs to own a successful pharmacy and to provide ideas for growth and innovation in the field.
Education and training programs are available to help independent pharmacy owners succeed, but that isn’t all. NCPA plays an active role in policy and advocacy efforts supporting legislations that benefit pharmacy owners and promote pharmacy provider status. With an office located minutes away from Washington, D.C., it is well-positioned to stay involved.
NCPA invited me to its 2017 Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In, which takes place April 26-27, to learn more about the advocacy process.
A nontraditional executive residency program at NCPA provides training for a lasting career in association management or independent pharmacy. I met with the current resident, Alexander Tu, who earned his Pharm.D. at Belmont University College of Pharmacy. He spends most of his time in the NCPA Innovation Center, where independent pharmacists seek consultation to determine how to implement new clinical services (pharmacogenomics, smoking cessation, HIV, etc.) within their pharmacies. The Innovation Center is also the “go-to” resource for pharmacists in all phases of ownership process.
Tu mentioned that the residency program provides a good work-life balance and networking opportunities to meet with other local executive residents (PQA, NACDS, APhA). His favorite part of the day is going into the office knowing there is always a new and exciting project to work on.
NCPA provides a lot of unique opportunities for students to get involved at the national level, such as competing in its Business Plan Competition, the first national competition of its kind in the pharmacy profession, as well as leadership opportunities, local chapter involvement and a student newsletter.
Students who are interested in learning more about innovation and evolution in community pharmacy have the opportunity to complete an association managment rotation at the NCPA headquarters. The best time for the rotation is in July, when the NCPA resident and other local executive residents begin their training and tour the different organizations to get exposed to the pharmacy landscape (which students are also invited to attend).
I met with NCPA’s current rotation student, Cierra Goodwin, a 2017 Pharm.D. candidate from the Georgia Campus-Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She was able to provide more insight on what an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience, or rotation, can provide:
“The purpose of the NCPA rotation is to provide students with an experience that demonstrates the importance of a national pharmacy association to the profession, as well as provide students with the opportunity to become aware of the vast amount of opportunities that exist in independent pharmacy practice.
“During our time here at NCPA, we as students are given a host of projects that include writing articles, providing tips to NCPA members and business owners, and conducting NCPA employee interviews. Each of these assignments gives us the opportunity to learn more about the organization, be hands-on and contribute to the many projects that they are tackling, and allows us to get to know the people that we see and interact with every day. Through the interviews themselves, I have personally gotten so many invaluable life and professional tips and advice that I might not have gotten elsewhere.
“We also get plenty of opportunities to sit in on a few of the numerous meetings that take place during the day. During these meetings, we get to see a side of pharmacy that we do not get taught in school. We learn about the issues associations handle on our behalf every day and get to listen in on the potential solutions. There’s a huge learning opportunity concerning things that can have a direct impact on our careers as pharmacists. We get to see how participation with pharmacy associations can keep us informed and give us a voice.
“I’ve realized while being here that the importance of associations and the vast amount of work that they do wasn’t stressed enough in school. I think that a rotation like this can open a lot of eyes and also get more people to truly become active in their profession. NCPA in particular can also expose people to a world of independent pharmacy that people are often unaware of. I think many people have the idea that independent pharmacy is phasing away as a career option, and being here will show you that is surely not the case!
“My advice to any pharmacy student currently considering what electives to choose would be to choose something completely different than those rotations that are required and to also look for opportunities that may not currently be on the list that the school provides. As an example, I am the first person from my school to do a rotation with NCPA. It was one that I found out about at the annual conference, and I took the steps necessary to set it up. I think that by using your rotations to expand your horizons, you will get the chance to see the many opportunities that pharmacists have and potentially find a new interest or passion career-wise.”
You can contact Cierra Goodwin at email@example.com. I would like to thank her for taking the time out to share her experiences, and I am impressed with the initiative she took to make her rotation experiences unique and to see different aspects of the profession.
I feel fortunate to have not only interviewed the NCPA resident but also to visit NCPA’s business office, meet the director of student and professional affairs and committees, and learn more about the organization. I have always had the opinion that working in the independent pharmacy field can be challenging from the business aspect — figuring out how to run a business and make a profit — but it was made clear that NCPA walks pharmacists throughout that process to make it less daunting. It clears the gate so that pharmacists have the autonomy to develop innovative clinical pharmacy services to serve their patients and community.
Learn more about NCPA’s executive residency program.
Kalyann Kauv, 2015-16 president of the VCU School of Pharmacy chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, was on campus today to speak at SNPhA’s final general body meeting of the year.
2017 student teams undertake MOM and RAM medical missions
VCU School of Pharmacy third-year Pharm.D. student Chelsey Llayton reports that 64 students applied to participate in the three domestic outreach events taking place this year. That includes a brand-new opportunity: A Remote Area Medical mission will take place for the first time in Emporia, Va., while the Wise County, Va., RAM moves into its 11th year.
“The application committee was very impressed by the many talented students who are committed to serving the community,” Llayton says. Each event is designed to provide care for Virginia’s underserved populations. And students are able to experience invaluable hands-on interactions with patients in an interprofessional environment.
Teams were selected via a blinded process by student leaders of each trip along with faculty Evan Sisson, John Bucheit and Emily Peron and PGY2 residents Estela Lajthia (CrossOver Healthcare Ministry) and Eric Parod (Center for Healthy Hearts).
Training meetings throughout the spring fill participants in on what to expect. Students who did not receive their first choice this year are encouraged to apply again for 2018!
The 2017 domestic outreach teams are as follows:
Mission of Mercy (MOM) – Yorktown (March 24-25)
Anesa Hughes (student leader), Gihun Kim (student co-leader), Precious Dadzie (P3), Robert D’Eramo (P4), Gurpreet Dulai (P3), Taylor Ferguson (P1), Amanda Johnson (P3), David Lee (P2), Tiffany Lee (P3), Caitlyn Moody (P2), Kayla Sheets (P2), Emily Sterling (P3), Joshua Thai (P2), Jany Wu (P1) and Tammy Yu (P2).
Remote Area Medical (RAM) – Emporia (June 23-25)
Kailey Conner (student leader), Yvonne Zhang (student leader), Heather Rucker (student co-leader), Frances Beckett-Ansa (P2), Goldie Chang (P3), Lauren Cooper (P1), Cameron Czech (P2), Meghan Gill (P2), Emily Harmon (P2), Laura Hsu (P2), Lily Jia (P3), Francine Kim (P1), Phuong Opper (P3), Jessica Roller (P2), Riley Scalzo (P2), Hannah Sharpe (P2) and Leighton Thumm (P1).
Remote Area Medical (RAM) – Wise County (July 20-23)
Chelsey Llayton (student leader), Cara Vu (student co-leader), Derek Abel (P3), Mary Beth Bryant (P1), Parker Campanella (P2), Wylie Crane (P1), Stephani Halloran (P2), Danielle Hess (P1), Caroline Jones (P2), Jenna Pham (P2), Archie Raghavan (P3), Nicholas Rebold (P3), Jessica Reid (P3), Stephanie Seto (P2) and Jen Walters (P3).
Special report: Responding to the drug diversion crisis through collaboration and empowerment
Thanks to Kalyann Kauv for providing the following report on a Pharmacy Diversion Awareness Conference sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in November. The DEA began offering these conferences five years ago to educate pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy loss personnel nationwide on the identification and prevention of diversion activity.
Drug diversion: a medical and legal concept involving the transfer of any legally prescribed controlled substance from the individual for whom it was prescribed to another person for any illicit use. The term comes from the “diverting” of the drugs from their original medical purpose.
Drug diversion contributes to abuse, overdose and death – and drug overdose deaths tripled between 1999 and 2014.
Bringing it closer to home, Virginia State Health Commissioner Marissa Levine recently declared Virginia’s opioid abuse crisis a Public Health Emergency to bring more awareness to the issue. Levine also released a “Virginia Statewide Standing Order for Naloxone,” authorizing pharmacists to dispense the anti-overdose drug following the Virginia Board of Pharmacy-approved protocol.
In an ongoing effort to enhance the collaboration between public health and law enforcement, the DEA’s Pharmacy Diversion Awareness Conferences focus on the growing issue of diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances. Discussion includes the ways pharmacists can assist in identifying and preventing diversion.
Hundreds of pharmacists from institutional and community settings, hailing from the Greater D.C., Maryland, and Virginia areas, attended the Nov. 19-20 PDAC sessions in Arlington, Va.
Special Agent in Charge Karl Colder of the DEA’s Washington Division Office and Unit Chief Thomas Prevoznik of the Liaison & Policy Section, Office of Diversion Control, began the meeting by citing solemn statistics concerning the increasing misuse nationwide of opioid prescription medications and illegal synthetic substances. Colder referred to the epidemic as an “equal opportunity destroyer.”
The presentation included a 45-minute documentary, “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict,” which followed recovering addicts and the family members who were affected by their substance abuse addictions, including how addiction permanently altered their lives. This documentary was produced by the FBI and DEA.
A common misconception is that opioid abuse is something that takes place illegally on the streets away from our homes. In fact, most opioid addiction begins in a provider’s office and as a prescription. Patients commonly store leftover medications from previous health conditions as a precaution in case they will need them again in future. This increases the opportunity for family members or friends to divert medications and for expired medications to become potentially dangerous.
Initiatives such as the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, now in its 11th year, have encouraged the public to drop off unused or expired medication for safe disposal at collection sites around the country. This year’s Take Back Day collected 447 tons of unused medications.
“Wherever the art of the medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” – Hippocrates
The more health care professionals respect medicine, the more they will treat their patients with respect, recognizing the vast difference prescriptions can make. In the efforts toward promoting public health safety, pharmacists are now, more than ever, in a unique position to serve as vital partners with the DEA in providing information about drug diversion. Pharmacists are the last line in ensuring the proper indication and dosage of prescriptions.
Because of this, the DEA continues to request that pharmacists get involved, stay involved and ensure that their colleagues are doing the same. They can contact the DEA to report suspicious activity and to find more resources and education on the Drug Diversion Task Force.
Bill Winsley, a retired pharmacist and former Ohio Board of Pharmacy member and past-president of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, reinforced the significant contributions a pharmacist can make toward the opioid epidemic. He provided multiple narratives as a practicing community pharmacist. In one case, he assisted the DEA in uncovering a provider misusing opioid prescribing in Ohio, noting the extensive harm the provider caused the public in the interest of financial gain.
The pharmacist’s ability to understand and discern the difference between appropriate and inappropriate prescribing of opioids, anti-anxiety and muscle relaxant medications is an important skill, highlighting the necessity of being attentive and alert to red flags.
Winsley’s No. 1 rule as a pharmacist is this: Always act in the best interest of the patient. Sometimes that means saying “No.”
Caroline Juran, a 1995 alumna of the VCU School of Pharmacy, has served on the Virginia Board of Pharmacy for 11 years, the past six years as executive director. She provided updates, including highlights from the efforts made by Virginia Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse, reviewing pharmacy-related bills passed by the 2015 General Assembly and noting new continuous quality improvement requirements.
Juran urged pharmacists stay informed and engaged in the past, current and future regulations that are voted into legislation. She recommended pharmacists stay equipped with knowledge on what Virginia is doing to face the opioid epidemic, including subscribing to online newsletters, following the Virginia Board of Pharmacy and Virginia Department of Health websites and viewing the video “Prescription Drug Abuse: Red Flags for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians.”
As a future pharmacist, this conference provided me an invaluable opportunity to hear from the perspective of the DEA’s office, pharmacists and the Board of Pharmacy. Through collaboration and communication, our expertise can be combined to tackle opioid abuse. Focusing on the epidemic as a whole can be seen as an immense task to overcome, but through collaboration, awareness and daily due diligence, each person can make a difference and protect people from harm. Before this conference, it was unclear to me how I could make an impact or the significant role the pharmacy profession can have. Now I feel better informed and clearer as to how to stay connected with our partners in these efforts.
Kalyann Kauv is a fourth-year Pharm.D. student at VCU School of Pharmacy. She is national public relations liaison for the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, former president of the VCU chapter of SNPhA and a member of Phi Lambda Sigma and Phi Delta Chi. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Alcohol Awareness Council offers an additional resource for those challenged by drug overdose issues: http://www.recovery.org/topics/drug-overdose/
Singh receives EPIC Pharmacies Student Grant Award
Third-year VCU School of Pharmacy student Jatinder Singh has been named one of 12 Pharm.D. students nationwide to receive a 2016 EPIC Pharmacies Student Grant Award.
EPIC Pharmacies Inc., a national network of more than 1,400 independently owned pharmacies, annually awards $1,000 grants to students who plan to practice in an independent pharmacy upon graduation.
“We are excited to support the next generation of independent pharmacists,” said EPIC Pharmacies CEO Jay Romero.
Singh is vice president of VCU School of Pharmacy’s chapter of the Student Association of Community Pharmacists, an organization that focuses on community and independent pharmacy practice. She also is a member of the Tau chapter of Kappa Epsilon and is an intern with VCU Health.
The remaining awards were made to students representing Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Purdue College of Pharmacy, South University School of Pharmacy, Temple University School of Pharmacy, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy, University of Louisiana Monroe School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy and West Virginia University School of Pharmacy.
Applications for the 2017 program will be available Jan. 1 at any EPIC Pharmacy.