Pharmacy students and faculty reach out with health fair

Pharmacy students filled the lobby of the Student Center for a health fair run by Temple’s chapter of the American Pharmacists Association. | Daniel Sebastian TTN
Pharmacy students filled the lobby of the Student Center for a health fair run by Temple’s chapter of the American Pharmacists Association. | Daniel Sebastian TTN

It’s easy to think of pharmacists as people who just count your pills, but Julia Lees said they do much more.

“Yeah, we count pills, but also if your doctor prescribes you three medications that all do the same thing for you and they cause your kidneys to fail, we are the ones to catch that,” said Lees, a third year pharmacy student at Temple. “Patients don’t realize how pharmacists can help them.”

This misconception about pharmacists is one of the reasons why Temple’s chapter of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists holds an annual health fair to educate students, faculty and the community about topics like migraines, smoking, sexual health and immunizations. This year’s health fair, held in the Student Center Sept. 18, was organized by Lees, who is the president of APhA.

Leigh Webber, program manager of the School of Pharmacy, hands out nutritious food samples during an annual health fair. | Daniel Sebastian TTN
Leigh Webber, program manager of the School of Pharmacy, hands out nutritious food samples during an annual health fair. | Daniel Sebastian TTN

The event, “Giving Back to Temple,” featured science fair-like poster boards that detailed each health topic while students and faculty from the pharmacy department were on hand to give more information. For the students, Lees said it was a chance for them to take what they learn in the classroom and educate Temple’s student community, which could actually use the information given to them for their daily lives, like with nutrition.

“We try to cover all the topics that are most common in a patient population,” Lees said.

This year was also special for the health fair in that three other organizations involved in clinical pharmacy, consulting pharmacy and hospital pharmacy, participated with their own poster board presentations.

Although there was much work that came with preparing for the event, Lees said it was worth the effort to reach out and educate the people who did stop by the health fair.

“Even if people said they only looked at one board or if they looked at all of them, it still made a difference to me,” she said. “I was very happy that we were there to give that knowledge to Temple University students and the community.”

Lees has been passionate about APhA’s mission of furthering pharmacy students’ impacts ever since she started pharmacy school—she has been involved in a leadership position for APhA since her first year.

“I fell in love with the APhA’s message of promoting the pharmacist’s voice as a student,” Lees said. “It’s not just one aspect of healthcare or patient care. It’s everything you can think of. It’s pharmacy laws, policy, international pharmacy. It’s so many opportunities to become involved.”

The Philadelphia-founded organization is the largest in Temple’s School of Pharmacy, and Lees hopes future events and initiatives of the APhA will become more available to students and the Philadelphia community. On Oct. 24, the organization will give presentations to high school students as part of “Upward Bound,” where members will cover topics like counterfeit medications, street drugs and allergies.

This year, Lees is adamant about educating pharmacy students on the opioid drug called Naloxone, also known as Narcan. This life-saving drug is essentially an antidote to the effects of overdoses on heroin, cocaine or oxycodone. Lees is organizing a training event where students can learn from a specialist about the drug and how to administer it to a patient.

For the future, as Lees hands off the presidency to another student, she hopes to get the word out more effectively around campus on the information pharmacy students have to give back to Temple.

“We are pharmacy school students,” Lees said. “This is how we want to contribute to Temple University.”

Albert Hong can be reached at albert.hong@temple.edu.

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