Building community with ePharmony
When The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy prohibited in-person events because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our APhA–ASP chapter felt doomed. With our membership drive theme “Dive into APhA,” we had planned socially distanced hikes, picnics, and small group meetings to connect with our peers. These events were scrapped as we transitioned to meeting virtually, but our leadership team worked together to engage our members in unique, creative ways.
Renee Nguyen, membership vice president, and her team (Kevin Quidilla, Andrew Do, Eric Lin, and Catherine Nghiem) began the semester with Zoom ice breakers, dance tutorials, and game nights. We enjoyed each event, but many members still felt a lack of community.
To combat the loneliness of our virtual world, Lexi Ton, budget and finance vice president, created a way for everyone to feel included. “ePharmony,” inspired by matching apps, encouraged student pharmacists to meet, spend one-on-one time together, and mentor each other. After answering a questionnaire, students were paired with someone different every week and encouraged to plan a virtual lunch, study date, workout session, or another creative activity.
Building our networks
ePharmony was a more intimate way for students to build their personal and professional networks while navigating this virtual world.
Bryan Huynh, patient care vice president, and Allison Dinh, international vice president, managed their teams to coordinate virtual patient care events. Our patient care sector held Operation Brain’s mental health workshops, Operation Respiration’s yoga/meditation sessions, Operation Diabetes’ educational presentations, and Women’s Health trivia night in collaboration with the Kappa Epsilon Xi chapter. Our international sector organized guest speaker presentations, anticounterfeit education with Operation Substance Use Disorder, and a healthy living and diabetes class at a local clinic.
These difficult times showed us that it was more important than ever to continue working together to provide patient care and seize our moment!
Until we meet again in person
December 2020 marked a new beginning for us—our university received doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and student pharmacists were included in the first round of distribution. With our members getting vaccinated, we have high hopes that we will soon meet in person and create a bigger impact in Austin.
ePharmony reviews from like-minded student pharmacists
“Five matches later, I’ve met four new friends and one sweet summer child who, ‘for the longest time,’ hasn’t heard of Billy Joel. Every match that I take, every hand I couldn’t shake, every friend that I make, I’ll be thanking ... e-Pharmony.”
—Ethan Tu, second-year PharmD candidate
“Starting my first year completely online, I found it difficult to meet others and form a sense of ‘pharmily’ like those before us. However, through e-Pharmony, I got to meet more people, making it feel a little less lonely. e-Pharmony has truly been an enjoyable experience in allowing new friendships to blossom during these isolating times (all while having a clever name!).”
—Tiffany Do, first-year PharmD candidate
“I had a lot of fun setting up e-Pharmony and pairing students together. With school being virtual, I felt like I helped bring our entire chapter closer as everyone connected and got to know each other!”
—Renee Nguyen, third-year PharmD candidate
Deepali Bhandari is a third-year PharmD candidate at The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy.