Students from the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy are participating in the National Script Your Future challenge from Feb. 1 through April 1 for the third year in a row. As a first-time participant in 2019, the program earned the National Rookie Award and received a monetary stipend to facilitate continual community involvement.
This year, the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy is aiming to perform well again, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has altered some components of the competition.
“I think the biggest thing that sets the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy apart from other schools is the sense of connection and teamwork between students,” said Morgan Burgess, a P2 pharmacy student. “Even during this time when we are all physically separated, we are still a ‘pharmily.’”
In the SYF challenge, pharmacy schools across the country work within their communities to raise awareness about the importance of medication adherence through outreach activities. This competition, in particular, is focusing on medication adherence for diabetes, respiratory diseases and cardiovascular disease, as well as other chronic diseases.
Wilkes’ faculty advisor, Dr. Troy Lynn Lewis, noted how this challenge highlights the impacts the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy has on the community.
“We are already doing amazing things and making an impact, especially during the pandemic, and this competition/challenge offers us the opportunity to showcase our work at the same time,” Lewis said. “This year, the four main categories of the challenge include virtual outreach to Senior Center Outreach Groups through interdisciplinary work with Cedar Crest dietetic students, vaccine confidence outreach and creating an educational video.”
In 2011, the SYF campaign began as a way to educate patients, healthcare providers and caregivers on the benefits of taking medication as prescribed, as a tool to better handle chronic diseases.
Bryanna Polascik, a P2 pharmacy student, is taking part in the SYF challenge for the first time this year.
“If medications aren’t taken properly, this could lead to hospitalizations or even worse,” said Polascik. “There are so many tips and tricks you can use to remember to take your medications each day, such as utilizing a pill box.”
P3 pharmacy student Jack O’Connell is also a first time participant, but he argues that medication adherence is important for another reason.
“Taking medication properly not only benefits the patient’s specific condition, but it lets us know as pharmacists if the medication is actually working,” said O’Connell. “If a patient’s condition is not improving, but they are not taking their medication properly and don’t relay that information, pharmacists may be inclined to switch medications, even though the first medication was not able to go into full effect.”
While medication adherence is an important issue, this year there is an additional goal for the challenge: Educating community members on the importance of vaccinations.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, confidence in vaccines and the public’s desire to receive the vaccine is a notable concern of health experts. At the end of 2020, Pew Research Center found that 60 percent of adults would probably get a vaccine. While this percentage has increased from 51 percent earlier in the year, more trust in the vaccine would mean more widespread vaccination and immunity to the COVID-19 virus.
The CDC has shared many articles citing the safety and reliability of vaccines, but not everyone is convinced.
“There are a lot of different myths circling the idea of getting vaccinated, and a lot of people aren’t aware of the difference between these myths and the facts,” said Polascik. “If we want to see an end to this pandemic, it is important that we vaccinate as many people as possible. I hope to help instill vaccine confidence in our community.”
The creativity, impact, use of SYF campaign materials, team approach and outcomes will be the criteria used to judge the pharmacy schools across the country in the competition. This year, many events are virtual, which means there will be more planning and outreach from the participating schools.
According to Polascik, “Something that makes the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy stand out as compared to other schools of pharmacy in this challenge is the fact that we are such a small school. Even though we are small, we are powerful. Our students and faculty have very close relationships that aren’t always seen at larger schools.”
The Nesbitt School of Pharmacy has proven its might to be greater than its size, as demonstrated by the program’s ability to earn the National Rookie Award. In 2021, the program hopes to earn another award.
To follow Wilkes’ student volunteers and keep up with their outreach activities, follow @wilkesu_syf on Instagram or @SYFWilkesU on Facebook. More information about the SYF challenge can be found at syfadherencechallenge.ning.com or by following @IWillTakeMyMeds or #SYFchallenge on Twitter.