University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy students receive the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for their efforts in educating the community on the misuse and abuse of prescription medications.
By Teofilo Borunda-Duque, PharmD, and Brittany Haggard, PharmD
At the University of New Mexico (UMN) College of Pharmacy, we take pride in being part of a state rich in culture and diversity. In order for us to expand the impact and connections we create through outreach, it is a priority to integrate culture within our initiatives so we have the ability to establish a lasting foundation for present and future generation’s usage and understanding of prescription medications.
Culture goes beyond language
Recognizing that language can present as a barrier for certain individuals, our initiative has translated its presentation and education materials to Spanish in order to reach the Hispanic population that dominates the state. In addition to broadening and expanding the horizon that Generation Rx has had in our community, we sought to reach out to specific populations that could benefit from prescription drug education.
These populations included senior citizens, and children who were admitted into the Children’s Psychiatric Center of UNM. Although these populations predominately speak English, we worked on “translating” our presentation for these groups to include information that would benefit them. Senior citizens were provided information on home medication safety (drug disposal), contacts for the Poison Prevention Center, and information about pharmacy visits including the importance of telling their pharmacist all the medications they are taking to combat the risk of drug–drug interactions.
The children within the psychiatric center at UNM are another vulnerable population we strived to educate. These individuals could benefit from our Generation Rx initiative because these patients are more than likely taking medications that could be deemed dangerous, are vulnerable to misuse and abuse, and many of these patients have fears about taking their medications. With this in mind, we were concerned that this population would be at high risk of experiencing a negative outcome with use of prescription drugs.
To “translate” our message, we met with the psychiatric center pharmacist to develop a presentation that would be best suited for this population. There is a need for finesse in educating these individuals on the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse without discouraging them from taking their medications, as compliance is often low.
There were many considerations that went into adjusting our presentations to ensure that they were culturally responsive. Although language was not the barrier encountered with these specific populations, tailoring our presentation for the culture of the groups and asking for suggestions on how to improve along the way facilitated relationships with organizations that helped expand the network and enthusiasm around our mission. In order to reach as many people as possible, we have to respect cultural differences and know our audience each time we present.
A privilege to educate
Having an appreciation and respect for culture enables us to reach more individuals and create new programs within our partnerships, such as the Parent Involvement Program (PIP). As a collaboration with the HOPE Initiative, PIP was a novel program that focused on prescription drug education with students who have a history of drug abuse, along with their parents.
With the modification of the Generation Rx presentation for senior citizens, Spanish speakers, and for the Children’s Psychiatric Center, we reached 783 adults and 8,352 teens. We consider it a privilege to educate as many individuals as possible in our community through the Generation Rx initiative, especially those who are at higher risk of prescription drug misuse and abuse.