School of Pharmacy Participates in First-Ever Health Fair on the Hill
More than 75 pharmacists, pharmacy residents, and student pharmacists
from the University of Maryland
School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland, Eastern Shore,
Shenandoah University, and Virginia Commonwealth University descended
on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Nov. 19, for a health fair aimed
at informing legislators and their staff about the many services that
pharmacists can provide to help individuals maintain healthy lifestyles
and prevent and manage chronic illnesses.
"Pharmacists complete a rigorous, four-year doctorate program that
equips them with knowledge about the pathophysiology, pharmacology, and
therapeutics of a wide range of disease states," says Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD, CGP, BCACP,
FAPhA, associate dean for student affairs and associate
professor in the Department of
Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) at the School of Pharmacy.
"However, while we are trained to provide a variety of health care
screenings and patient counseling services, our skills are often
underutilized. By staging a health fair on Capitol Hill, pharmacists
and pharmacy students were able to show legislators and their staffers
that our services extend far beyond medication dispensing."
The health fair was organized by the American Pharmacists Association,
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, National Community
Pharmacists Association, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and
the Congressional Community Pharmacy Caucus. Student pharmacists,
assisted by faculty, preceptors and other pharmacists, provided
participating legislators, congressional aides, and other government
staff members with screenings for bone density, body composition,
glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure, and performed medication
"The health fair provided an excellent opportunity for us to advocate
for our profession, while educating patients at the same time," says Deanna Tran, PharmD, assistant
professor in PPS. "It was also a great opportunity for our students to
practice the skills that they have learned in the classroom."
Faculty and students from the School of Pharmacy conducted screenings
for bone density, which showed whether participants had or were at risk
for developing osteoporosis. Former Representative Robert "Robin" Tallon, Jr., from
South Carolina and Representative Charlie
Dent from Pennsylvania visited the screening station, where they
received a heel ultrasound to check their bone density.
Following the completion of the screening, all participants met with
student pharmacists from the School to learn more about the score they
received. Student pharmacists counseled participants about how to
adjust their diet and supplementation to obtain optimum levels of
calcium and Vitamin D, get adequate exercise, and prevent falls.
Alexandra McPherson, a
third-year student pharmacist and member of the American Pharmacists
Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) at the School of
Pharmacy, enjoyed her time counseling patients about the results of
their bone density screenings. "It was especially great to speak with
young people who visited the health fair and provide them with advice
about different preventative measures that they can take now to ensure
a healthier future," she says.
McPherson adds, "Many of the participants were very receptive to the
ideas that I shared with them, especially those who had a family
history of osteoporosis. It was also interesting to counsel patients
with modified vegetarian or vegan diets, as they often expressed
concerns about the best way for them to maintain an adequate intake of
different nutrients, including calcium. I was pleasantly surprised to
see how engaged, proactive, and health conscious the attendees were."
Stephanie Yager, another
third-year student pharmacist and member of APhA-ASP at the School,
participated alongside McPherson during the event. Some of her patients
saw first-hand the importance of the bone density screenings she
"Several patients who were screened had osteopenia, or a bone mineral
density that was lower than normal," says Yager. "As a result of this
screening, they now know that they should talk to their doctor about
their condition and begin taking measures to help prevent them from
developing osteoporosis in the future."
In addition to helping legislators and other government workers become
more knowledgeable and proactive about their health, the event was part
of an ongoing initiative led by professional pharmacy organizations and
schools of pharmacy to raise awareness and provide valuable insight
about health care policy and other important issues related to the
profession, including provider status.
"The truth is that many people simply are not aware of the numerous
roles that pharmacists have," says McPherson. "And, events such as the
health fair on Capitol Hill are essential to promoting the role of the
pharmacist as an integral member of the health care team. From offering
a wide range of health screenings and immunizations to counseling
patients on medication adherence and adjusting medication regimens to
meet therapeutic objectives, pharmacists can play a critical role in
disease prevention and maintenance. We need to continue participating
in events such as this to demonstrate to policymakers the impact that
pharmacists can have not only on the immediate health and well-being of
our patients, but also on health care outcomes at a national level."
|Posting Date: 11/27/2013
|Contact Name: Malissa Carroll
|Contact Phone: 410-706-4235
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