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.

ASCP – American Society of Consultant Pharmacists

During the month of April, UCSOP will be featuring our many student organizations. At UCSOP, we believe that co-curricular experiences (outside the classroom) allow our students to practice their pharmacy skills and serve our communities. 100% of our student body is a member of at least one organization and our students participate in over 25 community health fairs each year serving over 5,000 patients. 

ASCP

ASCP members present at the Student Chapter Activity Poster Showcase at the ASCP annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) is a non-profit association that was established in the year 19691. As a student chapter of ASCP at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UCSOP) in Charleston, West Virginia, our mission correlates with the mission of the national chapter of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. The mission is the following:

The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists empowers pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to enhance quality of care for all older persons through the appropriate use of medication and the promotion of healthy aging.1

The purpose of the student chapter at UCSOP is to allow ASCP members to enhance their skills as student pharmacists and promote the health care quality of the elderly in the Charleston area. The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists chapter at UCSOP is accomplishing this through various activities.

The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists invites speakers with geriatric experience, such as residents that have done or are doing their residency in geriatrics, to come to our meetings to talk to the ASCP members. A new educational series is scheduled to launch in the spring semester of 2016. The Health Educational Sessions will provide the elderly in nursing homes helpful information about their health and how they can better it. ASCP also tries to reach out to the community and show support. For example, the ASCP members have participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The student chapter of American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) tries to make an impact in the school as well as in the community.

The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) is a growing chapter at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy. ASCP welcomes any student pharmacist that would like to make an impact in the lives of the elderly’s health care quality and wants to improve his/her leadership and communication skills. There is a $20.00 local feel to become an ASCP member. Currently, there is no national fee. As a member of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), one is expected to attend the monthly meetings held at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy and participate in the events hosted by ASCP. The benefits of being an ASCP member include: online version of The Consultant Pharmacist journal, member discounts to ASCP’s online store and member discounts to ASCP meetings.1 ASCP is a great organization for those who would like to explore a different aspect of pharmacy, make an influence in the lives of others, and work together with fellow student pharmacists.

Contributed by: Glorisel Cruz (ASCP Parliamentarian, class of 2018) and Marina Farid (ASCP Historian, class of 2018)