As the 2015–16 APhA–ASP International Vice President (IVP) at the Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) School of Pharmacy, I am proud to say we had a rewarding year of campaigns and activities.
Our first activity was the Healthy Living and Diabetes campaign. The target population for this event was pre-kindergarten students at the “A Child’s Place” daycare on our university campus. This activity was in partnership with Operation Diabetes and was implemented by five student pharmacist volunteers. We engaged young students in a conversation about the role of a pharmacist, assessed their knowledge, and educated them about unhealthy and healthy food items.
The student pharmacists were very energetic and had fun with how the information was delivered. The pre-kindergarten students were presented with non-edible, life-like healthy foods. We asked them to identify items in specific food groups (i.e. vegetables, dairy, fruits, and grains). They were really enthusiastic about this! The students then demonstrated what they learned by drawing a circle on a sheet of construction paper and dividing it into the correct healthy proportions for a balanced meal.
Our next activity was an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign held on December 1, 2015, in recognition of World AIDS Day. The target population was the entire NDMU community and individuals in the Baltimore area. This activity was in partnership with the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) “Remember the Ribbon” (RTR) initiative. The goal of the RTR initiative is to develop and execute events that will increase the awareness of HIV/AIDS in Baltimore and surrounding communities.
This campaign was executed in two steps. First, a presentation was given by representatives from the University of Maryland Institute of Human Virology. The presentation outlined the HIV/AIDS epidemic over the past 10 years and the current status of HIV/AIDS in Baltimore. The second step involved a candlelight vigil and an HIV/AIDS banner signing. After the presentation, SNPhA’s RTR chair engaged the audience in a game of Myths and Truths. Participants were asked questions about the disease and had to identify what was true and what was false. Our chapter saw an almost three-fold increase from the previous year in the number of people that attended this event. We hope to continue to raise awareness on this issue in the future.
Our chapter also supported a Public Health and Humanitarian campaign. During spring break, four student pharmacists embarked on a journey to Baja, Mexico, to provide clinical services to about 20 patients in Puerto Penasco, a rural town. In partnership with the international agency International Service Learning, NDMU Chapter members provided blood pressure screenings and physical examinations, administered public health surveys, and dispensed medications. The student pharmacists felt it was their duty when traveling abroad to not only learn about another health care system, but to also help patients in need.
During the didactic training, the students engaged in dialogue about cultural competency and thought that it was only right to practice it as well. By going to another country, they applied what they learned on how to communicate with the patients using non-verbal and verbal cues, as well as learned the best practices of this country to effectively achieve the goals of the trip. Chapter members also administered a public health survey to more than 40 homes.
If I could provide some advice to other APhA–ASP IVPs, I would sum it up in three words: communicate, collaborate, and coordinate.
Communicate with the other chapter leaders and committee chairs. Try not to operate in silos. By working together within your organization you can plan and manage many activities.
Collaborate with other organizations! Our student population base is smaller than most schools, so by collaborating with other student organizations, we can limit competition and promote more camaraderie.
Lastly, coordinate your efforts efficiently. Don’t wait until the final hour to plan, execute, and promote your event. I believe that promotion is the biggest piece to the puzzle: post flyers, send out e-mail blasts, and get your chapter excited to make a difference!