AAPS & NCPA Host Health Fair for American Pharmacists Month

On October 29th, 2016 the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) along with the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) chapters at UCSOP hosted a diabetes health fair at Fruth Pharmacy on Oakwood Road. This diabetes health fair was one of many events put together by the various organizations at UCSOP in honor of American Pharmacists’ Month.

While AAPS’s vision focuses on the development of products and therapies through research, a major part of their mission is to bring together all individuals involved in the pharmaceutical sciences in order to best serve patients. We saw this health fair as an opportunity to do just that. We were able to collaborate with students from other organizations that focus specifically on community pharmacy, but with whom we still share the ultimate goal of patient service.

“Through this health fair, we were able to embrace and exemplify the idea that while there are many facets and specialties within the field of pharmacy, we are all dedicated to the education and treatment of patients.”

At this event, AAPS and NCPA provided free blood glucose and blood pressure screenings to individuals in the Fruth Pharmacy store. Approximately 15 UCSOP students volunteered for this event between the two organizations. This event served as a great opportunity for P2 students to practice their newly-learned blood glucose and blood pressure monitoring skills on actual patients. P3s were able to use this an opportunity to interpret scores, as learned in our pharmacotherapy II class, and explain to patients their results.

AAPS & NCPA Students at Fruth at Oakwood Road's store hosting their health fair!

AAPS & NCPA Students at Fruth Pharmacy at Oakwood hosting their health fair!

During this health fair, we were able to serve approximately 30 patients. Many of these patients were highly engaged in their own health; they knew what medications they were taking and knew what their normal values were. These patients appreciated the opportunity to quickly test their blood pressure and blood glucose to make sure they were reaching their goals. However, we also interacted with patients who had very little knowledge of blood glucose and blood pressure screenings. With these patients, we had the chance to educate them on why each test was important and explain consequences of high readings. There were also patients who understood the screening methods and knew they were diagnosed with diabetes, but did not seem to take their diagnoses seriously. These patients mentioned having family histories of diabetes and seemed to think that it was inevitable that they too develop diabetes. For these patients, we stressed the importance of taking medications as prescribed and regularly checking their blood glucose and blood pressure.

This health fair served as an opportunity to reach out to the Charleston community. Through this event, we were able to educate members of our community, bring attention to our school of pharmacy, and promote the profession of pharmacy. AAPS and NCPA, two organizations that may not seem to be associated, were able work together and support one another.

Contributed by: Suyasha Pradhan, AAPS Vice-President, Class of 2018

Script Your Future: Asthma & Medication Adherence

Script Your Future

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. It affects persons of all ages, but is more common in children. Some of the common signs/symptoms associated with asthma are wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath especially on exertion, and coughing. Although there is no cure for asthma, there are steps you can take to keep this condition under control!

The best way to manage your asthma is to take your medications properly. The most commonly used medications in the treatment of asthma are a combination of long-term and quick-relief (aka “rescue”) medications. Although these medications can be taken in a pill or tablet form, they are commonly administered through devices called inhalers and/or nebulizers. These long-term inhalers are used to deliver inhaled corticosteroids (e.g. albuterol) into the airways for the purpose of reducing airway inflammation and prevent symptoms from ever occurring. Short-acting or “rescue” medications are used to provide fast relief when symptoms do occur.

An Asthma Action Plan is a great tool to use in helping you manage your asthma appropriately. These worksheets help you keep track of your asthma symptoms and medications all in one convenient place. These plans describe your daily asthma care plan including what treatments to take and when. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to guide you in filling out the action plan and keep you on the right track. For all chronic conditions, asthma included, it is critical to take all of your medications as they are prescribed by your doctor!

For tips on how to use an inhaler or find a sample Asthma Action Plan, visit www.scriptyourfuture.org!

Protecting Yourself From HPV: Know the Facts

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a very common virus, that affects nearly one in four adults in the United States. While most strains of the virus are harmless, or cause only benign warts, there are up to 30 strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women worldwide. It is a unique type of cancer, because nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. However, the good news is that there is a vaccine for the most dangerous strains of HPV known to cause cancer. This makes the HPV vaccine one of the only vaccines to-date known to prevent cancer.

In 2006, Dr Ian Frazer of Australia created the first HPV vaccine, which protected against the four most dangerous strains of the virus. The vaccine, called Gardisil, has since become an outstanding success in many parts of the world. In Australia, where the vaccine was first released, vaccination rates are close to 80%, and doctors have seen a 77% reduction in the HPV infections that often lead to cervical cancer. While the United States has a lower vaccination rate at only 54%, there has still been a 56% decline in rates of infection with HPV in the last decade. The potential to decrease cervical cancer rates in the future still remains to be seen, but these results are encouraging and already show the positive effects of the vaccine.

HPV is usually spread through sexual contact. The primary age groups recommended for vaccination are
those 9 to 13 years old, although it can be given to young adults up to 26 years of age. It is best to begin the vaccine series as early as possible, because it is given in 3 separate doses which are spread over 6-12 months. While prevention of cervical cancer is the largest benefit from the vaccine, boys are also recommended to receive the vaccine in order to help prevent spread of the virus. The HPV vaccine can also minimize the risk of other cancers including mouth, throat, and penile cancers, along with the prevention of genital warts.

In order to increase vaccination rates and reduce HPV rates in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that primary care providers continue to recommend the vaccine and educate the public regarding its potential benefits. This includes reducing stigma related to the vaccine and making the vaccine more readily available in clinics and physician’s offices. An expansion of the HPV vaccine into pharmacies could also increase availability of the vaccine. Pharmacists are also in the best position, as the front line of healthcare providers, to reach the public with vaccine information and awareness about HPV. The evidence for the vaccine’s effectiveness against HPV so far is impressive. It is estimated that, with increased awareness and vaccination programs, the United States could see a reduction in up to 90% of cases of cervical cancer within the next 10-20 years. Therefore, as pharmacists, we are in an optimal position to spread awareness about the HPV vaccine and help to continue the fight against cervical cancer.

Contributed by Kathryn Howerton, Class of 2019

References and Additional Information

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/cancer.htmlhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1872115X08000054
  2. http://www.hpvvaccine.org.au/the-hpv-vaccine/has-the-program-been-successful.aspx
  3. http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/22/health/hpv-vaccine-teen-girls-effective
  4. http://circleofdocs.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/gardasil-injection-1068×641

Tips & Tricks for Applying for Residencies

Contributed By: Katie Oliver, Class of 2017, Phi Lambda Sigma Secretary

As a fourth-year student approaching the end of my time in pharmacy school, it finally feels like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! All of my time with didactic classwork and clinical rotations is quickly coming to a close. With that being said, there is still one thing hanging over my head – applications for PGY1 residency.

PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Residencies are optional additional training after graduation with your Pharm.D degree. These programs provide recently graduated pharmacists with an opportunity to finely tune their clinical skills in real world practice. While you are able to practice independently as a pharmacist, you remain under the supervision of other pharmacists who are there to provide advice, constructive criticism, and clinical experience. It is estimated that completing one year of residency will provide you with clinical knowledge equivalent to 3 years of clinical practice.

If you feel that completing a PGY1 residency may be in your future, I wanted to provide some helpful tips and tricks, as well as some information I wish I would have known prior to applying:

  • Applications for PGY1 residencies exist almost exclusively on two online portals; PhORCAS and The Match
  • PhORCAS
    • Almost identical to PharmCAS. This is where you will upload your transcripts, letters of recommendation, letters of intent, CV, pharmacy schools attended, etc.
    • You will pay to submit your applications here, as well. PhORCAS costs $100. This price includes submitting applications to four programs. Every program you apply to beyond this costs an additional $40.
    • Fill out the online PhORCAS application fully. Do not rely solely on your CV to speak to your abilities and experience. Fill out every section of the PhORCAS application to the best of your ability.
  • Letters of Recommendation
    • Try to get references from individuals who have seen you practice clinically (e.g. preceptors) and who practice in similar settings to the type of programs you are applying to. (e.g. if you are applying to a program with an emphasis in infectious disease, try to get a letter of recommendation from a pharmacist who practices in this area).
    • Ask individuals if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation before you enter their information into PhORCAS. Once you enter their information it automatically generates and sends them an e-mail.
    • Letters of recommendation aren’t truly “letters” in PhORCAS. When PhORCAS sends the e-mail to the individual writing on your behalf, it is instead multiple short answers they answer in PhORCAS.
  • Letters of Intents
    • Individualize these to each program. Do not just speak about why you want to do a residency, but why you want to complete residency at their facility. Speak about what draws you to their program and why you feel you would benefit from it. Also, why would they benefit as taking you as a resident?
    • Make sure you format correctly! There are plenty of examples of PGY1 Letters of Intent on the internet.
  • Transcripts
    • Provide yourself plenty of time! PhORCAS will generate a document with you to print directly from their website that contains a barcode specific to you. You must then request your transcript from the university and have both of these documents mailed together. I would suggest starting this process several weeks prior to your applications being due.
    • Some programs require supplemental materials. Examples could include class rank, a photograph, undergraduate transcripts, etc. Pay attention to this!
  • The Match
    • This is where you submit your rank order list after you have completed your interviews. It is a separate website from PhORCAS. This is also where programs submit their rank order list of applicants.
    • The Match costs $150.
    • There are multiple phases of the match process. “Phase 1” and “Phase 2”. If you do not match with a program in Phase 1, you move on to Phase 2 for a second chance to match with programs who still have resident spots remaining. There is no additional cost for this.
    • If you do not match with a program in Phase 2, there is an opportunity to move on to the scramble process. This is provides a third opportunity to match with programs who still have residents spots remaining (it is completed in a much shorter time frame).

Applying for residencies is a stressful and difficult process, but definitely worth it in the end. If you are a current UCSOP student and have any questions about the application process, the faculty and staff at UC are more than willing to help!

Script Your Future – UCSOP Kicks Off 2017 Medication Adherence Challenge

Script Your Future

The 2017 Script Your Future (SYF) Campaign has officially begun, and as such, the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy is working tirelessly to educate the public about the importance of medication adherence. The main goal of SYF is to educate others about safe and proper medication use. This includes taking medications only as directed by a doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional. For persons with long-term health conditions, especially, adhering to their medications is critical and possibly life-saving. Research has shown that more than 1 in 3 medication-related hospitalizations happen because the person did not take their medicine as instructed. Furthermore, almost 125,000 people die each year due to medication non-adherence.

Unfortunately, medication adherence is something many people struggle with. Some patients either never fill their prescriptions, or they may never pick up their filled prescriptions from the pharmacy. Others bring their medication home, but they end up skipping doses or stop taking the medication all together. It is important for everyone to take their medications only as directed by a health care provider so they do not take too high or too low of a dose. Not taking medications as instructed, can be detrimental for your health. For example, if a person with COPD does not regularly use their maintenance inhaler, it can result in increased shortness of breath and significantly decrease their overall quality of life. Not taking medications as directed can lead to other health problems, especially if you already have asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

There are many reasons people lack proper medication adherence. Forgetfulness, adverse side effects, cost, and thinking the medication is not needed are all common reasons people do not take their medications properly. No matter the reason, however, by not taking medications as directed, it increases the patients chances of experiencing worsening disease states and/or symptoms, and may even decrease their protection from future health complications. If you or a loved one have questions about your health conditions, how your medicine works, why you need to take your medicine, side effects or other concerns– talk to your doctor, pharmacist, nurse or other health care professional. The members of your healthcare team will help you understand your disease states and what steps you can take in managing those conditions. The best, first step you can take, however, is to take your medications as directed!

www.scriptyourfuture.org

Script Your Future: COPD & Medication Adherence

Script Your Future

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic, progressive disease that is often caused by long-term exposure to lung irritants. This disease is a result of decreased air flow in and out of the lungs due to one or more of the following: airways lose their elasticity, the walls between the air sacs are destroyed, the airways thicken and become inflamed, and/or the airways have increased production of mucus which can clog them. COPD usually causes coughing along with the production of large amounts of mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.

The causes of COPD have been extensively studied, and it is no surprise that smoking is at the top of the list. Smoking, frequent exposure to air pollutants, secondhand smoke, and chemical fumes have all been linked to causing COPD.

With that being said, smoking cessation and avoiding harmful fumes are some of the best steps you can take to slowing the progression of this disease and improve your breathing. Because COPD is a progressive disease, it is especially important for patients to take their medications as they are prescribed by a doctor. The medications used to control/treat COPD are usually inhaled bronchodilators and corticosteroids. It is important for these medications to be used regularly, not just when a “flare up” occurs in order to get the best outcomes possible.

Not only does COPD directly affect one’s ability to breathe, it also puts these patients at higher risk for other respiratory conditions. Influenza and pneumonia, especially, are two of the most common co-conditions seen in patients with COPD. Fortunately, there are vaccinations to help prevent you from ever getting the flu or pneumonia! It is recommended for all persons with COPD to get their flu shot each year, and get their pneumonia vaccine as recommended by their health care provider. Managing chronic conditions like COPD can be challenging, but it is important to stay educated about the disease and how to manage it appropriately.

Visit www.scriptyourfuture.org & Take the Pledge to Take Your Meds today!

Educating Charleston’s Youth About Safe Medication Practices

As first-year pharmacy students (P1s), we sign the Oath of a Pharmacist when we walk across the stage during the White Coat Ceremony. By signing this document, we are accepting the responsibility of utilizing our knowledge to serve the community. This year, the P1’s had the pleasure of using our knowledge to teach 5th grade students throughout the Charleston area about the dangers of misusing prescription medication by utilizing materials from Generation Rx.

In the past month, more than 6 million Americans ages 12 and older have taken a prescription medication for non-medical reasons. Drug overdose deaths, mainly from prescription medications, is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. Generation Rx’s goal is to educate our youth, college students, other adults in our communities, and seniors about enhancing medication safety in order to prevent them from being another statistic in the future of prescription drug misuse.

UCSOP Class of 2020 students celebrate safe medication use with 5th grade students!

UCSOP Class of 2020 students celebrate safe medication use with 5th grade students!

Being that West Virginia has one of the highest opioid abuse rates in the United States, it is vital to reach out to the children in our state and teach them the importance of using medications correctly while they are young. Our class was split up into twelve groups who would each present to one 5th grade classroom in two hour-long sessions. For the first session, we were given a PowerPoint to present that hit on all the core messages of Generation Rx such as not sharing medications, using medications as directed by a physician, proper medication storage, and being a good role model. In the second session, we were able to incorporate active learning activities for the students.

Overall this experience was truly rewarding. We wore our white coats to the presentations and you could tell the children wanted to hear what we had to say as a result. They were constantly participating and seemed to have fun while going through the PowerPoint. In order to see what information the children had retained, our group decided to play jeopardy with the class during our second session. I was impressed to see great improvements in their answers from our first presentation. It made me feel like we could actually be making a difference. If our presentation can prevent even one student from misusing medication in the future, then it can be considered worthwhile. Generation Rx is a very important organization and I think it is great that our school of pharmacy has become actively engaged with teaching it. I hope to continue partaking in events related to Generation Rx throughout my pharmacy school career.

Contributed by Glenn Schiotis, Vice President Class of 2020

APhA-ASP Mid-Year Regional Meeting 2016

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The American Pharmacist Association-Academy of Student Pharmacist (APhA-ASP) held its Mid-Year Regional Meeting, or MRM, for Region II in Somerset, New Jersey from October 21st to 23rd  2016. It was composed of students from all over the world representing twenty different schools and colleges of pharmacy from the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The APhA-ASP officers, Shelly Ray, the Regional Meeting Coordinator from Rutgers University, Nimit Jidal, the Regional Delegate from Rutgers University, and Laura Byrd, the Regional Member At-Large from the University of Maryland Eastern, directed the conference through multiple programs. Some of the programs included speakers on leadership, networking, Generation Rx, and medication safety.

One of the highlights of the conference was an impassioned speech about the past of a former drug user from the recovery program of the College of New Jersey. This talk helped us realize the importance of health care providers in society, and the impact we as pharmacists can have on drug abusers. Then, the CEO of Walgreens and Manager of Walmart shared their experiences and challenged us to improve our leadership skills and shared their advice on how to become successful leaders in the pharmacy profession. Another CEO and successful owner of many pharmacies flew in from California to come and share advice regarding how to become a successful owner of a pharmacy, as well.

A career expo offered opportunities for attendees to meet with representatives from all over the country and learn more about different fellowships and post-graduate opportunities. Raffle tickets were given out along with games which added some excitement, levity, and encouraged networking with our fellow attendees through competition. Throughout the meeting, members who have contributed to the success of their home APhA-ASP chapters were recognized, and our own Rachel Peaytt, President-Elect, was recognized for her hard work for the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy APhA-ASP student organization. This meeting also provided an opportunity for various student chapters to propose their ideas on new policies which were then discussed and voted upon to be brought to attention at the national APhA-ASP with the intention to improve the field of pharmacy. This meeting allowed connection between APhA-ASP members, promoted the development of essential pharmacy skills, provided a chance to learn from successful leaders, and encouraged members to continue to contribute to the pharmacy community all while perpetuating the APhA message: “Together We Can.”

White Coats on the Bridge

Every October is American Pharmacist Month and as such, the whole month is filled with activities at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy. Each pharmacy organization and class sponsors at least one American Pharmacist Month event to help spread the word and educate people regarding the different aspects of pharmacy.  From medication therapy management to administering vaccinations, it is pharmacist’s job to let people know that pharmacists can do so much more than just count pills!

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UCSOP students on the Southside Bridge, Charleston WV

This year, the class of 2018 in coordination with the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) student chapter and UCSOP Class of 2020, hosted an event called “White Coats on the Bridge”. On Tuesday, October 11th, student pharmacists from every current class at UCSOP and UC’s mascot, Mo Harv the Golden Eagle, gathered in their white coats on the side of the Southside Bridge between MacCorkle Avenue and Virginia Street in Charleston to help spread awareness and celebrate American Pharmacists Month. As people drove by on their way home from work that evening, students waved signs promoting UCSOP, encouraging people to talk to their pharmacist about their medications, and just supporting the profession of pharmacy overall.

The event took place during the beginning of flu-season, so students took advantage of the opportunity to encourage people to get their annual influenza vaccination. Using signs like “Don’t get spooked by the flu” and “Honk if You Got Your Flu Shot”, students were able to interact with the passers-by and educate them in a fast and effective way. My favorite sign of the evening however, simply said, “Honk if you love your pharmacist” and over the course of the two hours we were there, well over 300 cars let out a friendly honk as they drove by!

At UCSOP, we are constantly looking for new and different ways to educate patients on all of the different things that their pharmacist can do for them, and “White Coats on the Bridge” is something that we had never done before. Overall, it was a beautiful evening for the event, and we all had a ton of fun getting the word out about American Pharmacists Month in a new and exciting way. The best part though, was definitely the support we received from the public. As cars drove by, drivers and their passengers would honk and wave, and you could see the smiles on their faces. If nothing else, it felt good just knowing that a group of student pharmacists made an impact and brightened someone’s day. The hope is that this becomes an annual event that grows throughout the years at UCSOP.

Contributed by Ryan Nolan, Class of 2018 President

UCSOP Students Volunteer at Kanawha Charleston Health Department Harm Reduction Program

Contributed by: Grandee Dang, Class of 2019 ASCP Secretary 

Growing up within the inner-city communities of California, I was exposed to many of the social and economic problems that plagued the area. Drug addiction was one of the main reoccurring themes within the topic of discussions. Whether it was the “Just Say No” slogan broadcasted on our televisions or the “DARE” members congregating on the school grounds, the problem of drug abuse was always prevalent within my hometown of San Jose. The taboo nature of drug use bled into the community and unfortunately also dehumanized drug users. As a result, the terms “drug user” became associated with shaming and an overall sub community that have been labeled as “criminals” or hopeless addicts. However, as with any problem, there are two sides to the story. One of those is given to the general public and the vision that is often shared by those battling the drugs on the front lines.

During the week-long Thanksgiving break, my colleague, Alan Lam, and I were attracted to the idea of taking our time off to volunteer within the community. With the current opioid problem plaguing West Virginia, we became interested in learning more about educating ourselves about the opioid addiction and how we can better serve the community. Dr. Acree, an assistant professor and pharmacist at UCSOP,  had routinely volunteered at the Kanawha Health Department every Wednesday for the needle exchange. Intrigued, we both wanted to participate in the needle exchange along side with Dr. Acree.

“Just like the diverse community addiction affects, there is no singular solution to the problem, but the needle exchange program is a valuable asset in servicing these patients.”

The enriching experience illustrated that not all drug users are like the stereotypes that are often portrayed in the media. Many of the individuals who visited the clinic were not so different from those of the general population. They had jobs and families, but were stricken with the disease of addiction. During our visit we got to practice our empathy skills throughout our interactions with the patients at the clinic, as well. During the needle exchange, we realized that even though we cannot cure the disease of addiction or the influx of the opiate abuse, we can at least lower the spread of blood borne diseases associated with needle sharing. Just like the diverse community that addiction affects, there is no singular solution to the problem, but the needle exchange program is a valuable asset in servicing these patients. Upon observation, we realized that addiction could affect people of all ages from all socioeconomic backgrounds. In time we hope we could continue this program and perhaps expand it throughout areas where opiate abuse has uprooted the community. If these efforts save only one life or present the spread of blood borne disease to just one person, it is well worth the effort.