Students from the University of Maryland (UM) School of Pharmacy have been selected as a winner of the first-ever Script Your Future Medication Adherence Challenge for student pharmacists, a project of the National Consumers League (NCL), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation, and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP).
The Medication Adherence Challenge is part of a public awareness campaign launched in 2011 by NCL with more than 100 public and private stakeholder organizations, including the NACDS Foundation and AACP. The campaign, titled Script Your Future, seeks to raise awareness with patients about the importance of taking medication as directed.
Nearly three out of four Americans don't take their medications as directed and the results can be devastating, particularly for people with chronic conditions. More than one-third of medicine-related hospitalizations and almost 125,000 deaths in the United States each year are due to people not taking their medicine as directed. Medication adherence can lead to improved health and reduced health care costs.
The challenge was a coordinated initiative to engage student pharmacists in a public education effort on the importance of helping patients with chronic diseases take their medications as directed. More than 40,000 student pharmacists educated more than 250,000 individuals nationwide during the month of October.
"The goal is to educate the next generation of pharmacists to take a proactive role in encouraging patients to follow the instructions for taking their medication through medication adherence education," says Sally Greenberg, executive director of the NCL. "Students at schools of pharmacy participated in the challenge by engaging in community outreach activities to raise awareness about the health consequences of poor medication adherence, or not taking medication as directed."
UM School of Pharmacy students, selected from 81 participating colleges and schools of pharmacy, received the Target Market Challenge Award. Led by Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD, an associate professor of pharmacy practice and science, UM student pharmacists worked with the Script Your Future Baltimore Student Coalition to raise awareness and educate the public by participating in health fairs and other local events.
Students wore Script Your Future T-shirts, provided blood pressure screenings, and talked about medication management with attendees. During their pharmacy rotation program, these students worked with patients at local pharmacies to talk about the importance of taking their medications as prescribed, and distributed more than 800 medication wallet cards to patients.
"Various student organizations at the School of Pharmacy came together to make this campaign a success," says Layson-Wolf. "Without the collective support and participation of the groups and their belief in how important it is for people to take their medicines as directed, we would not have been able to reach as many people in Maryland as we did. Our students' enthusiasm for the campaign was unparalleled and is a testament to the dedication our student pharmacists have to helping patients."
"The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is unique in that we had more than 10 student organizations come together to make the Medication Adherence Challenge a success," says Eric Wong, a third-year student pharmacist and president of the School's Student Government Association. "The caliber of our student leaders gave us an advantage as they strove to incorporate the adherence events into their normal community service and health fair initiatives."
"This was a project that I knew the student pharmacists at the University of Maryland would become passionate about, because not only are our students extremely dedicated to the community, but because of the opportunity to showcase the role pharmacists and student pharmacists have in maximizing patients' health," says Monique Mounce, a third-year student pharmacist and chief student coordinator for the Script Your Future Baltimore Student Coalition.
"Our student pharmacists take community service very seriously, contributing several thousand hours each year to public education efforts," says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, professor and dean of the School of Pharmacy. "They have the wonderful capability of taking what they learn in the classroom and applying it to the real world, as seen through their success with the Medication Adherence Challeng. I am proud that our students' efforts have been recognized by the NCL, AACP and the NACDS Foundation and am sure that this honor will motivate them to do even more for our local community."