Sara Massey on her chapter: "We volunteer with APhA–ASP to serve our communities, to better the health of patients, and to advance the profession of pharmacy."
By Sara Massey, PharmD
The 2016–17 APhA–ASP theme “Together We Can” was enthusiastically embraced by the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC) School of Pharmacy's APhA–ASP Chapter, as student pharmacists worked together to become leaders in advocacy for the profession and patients within the community. Our chapter set out to share its voice and reach our statewide goals. Overall, we held 366 events, educated and provided services to 19,938 patients in 80 out of the 114 Missouri counties, and reached nearly 2.5 million patients through public relation efforts.
It was amazing to be recognized for our efforts at APhA2018 in Nashville when our chapter received the 2016–17 APhA–ASP Chapter of the Year Award.
Retreat sets stage for action
To prepare for the year, our newly elected chapter leaders attended transition meetings to learn about the structure, history, and function of the organization. At the beginning of the summer of 2016, all officers attended an off-campus officer retreat that included team-building activities, brainstorming sessions on local and national initiatives, setting chapter goals, and cultivating relationships between officers on all campuses. This retreat was vital to our success as a team. We learned from each other, became a closer group of leaders, and streamlined our vision for the year. In addition, chapter leaders met two other times throughout the year to revisit goals and ideas, which kept the chapter focused and energized.
One of our major goals was to reach a new, unique patient population, so our chapter focused many efforts around the college-aged population. We did this through our campaign, #BeartheBandaid, to promote flu vaccination awareness at a local university. Friendly competitions took place between dormitories and campus housing, flyers and bookmarks were distributed across campus, and participants were eligible to win prizes after receiving a flu vaccine. In addition, we presented multiple educational presentations about HPV and other vaccinations, and held discussions on drug and alcohol abuse targeted at members of the Greek life community. We were able to make a greater impact on our community by focusing on a new patient population.
Another major goal was to create new programming and events throughout the year. Our chapter launched a new local initiative, Operation Self-Care, which focused on mental health awareness and diminishing the stigma of mental health. Previously in our community, mental health was not discussed during our health fairs, but after its creation, Operation Self-Care became a staple booth at our health fairs throughout the year. We focused on patients of all ages and educated them on the importance of mental health. Social media was also used to share the stories of real people and how they overcame their personal illnesses.
Our chapter also launched PharmAssist, which is a student pharmacist-led mentoring program. First-year student pharmacists were paired with upperclassmen to help with class schedules, organization involvement, and job placement. During the inaugural year, 181 student pharmacists were involved in the mentoring program. This helped unite our chapter as well as provide student pharmacists with a community of people with similar interests.
Throughout the year, the chapter formed new relationships with community organizations, which allowed us to participate in numerous new events. We joined DKMS to host four bone marrow registration drives across the state of Missouri, and added 295 people to the national bone marrow registry. Local soup kitchens invited us to help hand out water and talk about the profession during American Pharmacists Month. Walgreens supplied flu vaccinations to our chapter and we in turn vaccinated 601 patients throughout the state. A local radio station interviewed two chapter leaders during Drug Take Back Day, granting us a platform to talk about medication safety.
All of the new collaborations and partnerships established a broader network that allowed our chapter to reach more patients and better the health of the community.
Putting others first
It is important to remember what it means to be a member of APhA–ASP. We don’t do the things we do for recognition at the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition, or for a shiny plaque with our chapter name on it. We volunteer with APhA–ASP to serve our communities, to better the health of patients, and to advance the profession of pharmacy.
Every health fair, presentation, and community outreach event will serve as a reminder that the profession is about putting others first.