Monday, March 16, 2020

Pharmacists—including student pharmacists at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy—play an important role in keeping our community healthy through annual flu shot clinics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the 2018-2019 flu season was the longest season in a decade. Subsequently, a pharmacist’s role in helping keep our community healthy is more important than ever.

UI Doctor of Pharmacy students receive extensive training on administering immunizations, and have ample opportunity to practice and perfect their skills during immunization clinics held on campus and throughout the community. Through immunization clinics, student pharmacists collaborate with local organizations and campus partners, and become integral members of patient care teams.

From September through November, 180 Doctor of Pharmacy students from six student organizations provided over 7,900 flu vaccinations. The immunizations were given during 124 clinics on campus and in the community to UI employees and students, the general public, and at area businesses.

Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) saw a significant increase in vaccines given from last year, from 600 to 1,965. This increase was partially due to a growing relationship established with UI Student Health in 2018, which led to ten immunization clinics across campus for the UI Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry, the Hawkeye Marching Band, Main Library and Catlett dorm.

Erika Schupp, SNPhA Operation Immunization chair and second-year Doctor of Pharmacy student, commented:

Erika Schupp, Doctor of Pharmacy Student

Erika Schupp
Doctor of Pharmacy Student

Partnering with student health was great because it allowed us to put our knowledge and skills to the test while keeping our campus healthy. I loved the idea of setting up flu clinics right on campus because they were convenient and accessible to most students, regardless of time or transportation constraints.

National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) also saw growth with its immunization campaign this fall, providing 655 immunizations during 20 clinics at area businesses and community pharmacies.

Aaron McDonough, NCPA president and third-year Doctor of Pharmacy student, attributes part of this growth to the increasingly important role of a pharmacist in a patient's healthcare. "Healthcare is at a pivotal moment. Consumers are invested in health and wellness and are seeking out information about their health. Pharmacists and student pharmacists are available to answer health-related questions. They use this patient interaction as an opportunity to not only educate, but learn more about each patient's personal health goals and help create strategies for them to achieve these goals," said McDonough.

Aaron McDonough, Doctor of Pharmacy Student
Aaron McDonough
Doctor of Pharmacy Student

Giving a flu shot should be more than a routine "needle stick" and should give the patient a platform to voice their health concerns and desires with a trusted healthcare professional.

Other student organizations that offered immunization clinics this fall included the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists, Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International, Kappa Psi, and Phi Delta Chi.