One-Day Summer Learning Experience at CHSU for Doctors Academy Students

July 9, 2016

On Wednesday, July 6, 2016, PharmD students and faculty at CHSU College of Pharmacy hosted an on-campus learning experience for UCSF Fresno LACMER Doctors Academy students from Sunnyside High school. The event was designed to provide greater exposure to the role of pharmacists on the health care team and engage the high school students in hands-on activities related to health care, pharmacy and research.

The 35 juniors that participated were attending a 5 ½ week Doctors Academy summer program at Sunnyside High School facilitated by Kelly Eichmann and Lisa Madrigal. The high school students – who arrived to campus wearing their scrubs – were focused, enthusiastic and excited to participate in presentations, hands-on activities and a team-based learning exercise.

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The students were welcomed and given an enlightening presentation about the role and importance of health providers in our region by William Ofstad, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, Assistant Dean for Education and Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences at CHSU. Dr. Ofstad also highlighted the responsibilities and career benefits of pharmacists along with the unique training pharmacy students receive at CHSU.

The 11th graders were delighted to hear that pharmacists can practice in over 25 different specialty fields, including more direct patient care roles such as Clinical pharmacists, where they conduct physical assessments similar to those conducted by nurses and physician assistants.

The students were then divided into six teams to rotate through hands-on learning activities in physical assessment, compounding and research. Second and third year pharmacy students Lauren Park (P3), Hemjot Kaur (P3), Joann Truong (P2), Ghotra, Navjot Ghotra (P2), Mai Lee Yang (P2), Matt Lopez (P2), assisted the faculty in facilitating each activity.

In the physical assessment activity, the high school students learned the importance of monitoring heart rate and blood pressure in patients, guided by CHSU faculty Drs. Amy Richardson, Patty Havard, Robert Clegg, and Stan Snowden. First they had an information session from Dr. Richardson to understand how heart rate is measured, what blood pressure is and how to monitor both to ensure the patients fall within acceptable ranges. Then the high school students were guided by CHSU College of Pharmacy faculty and pharmacy students in hands-on activities to learn how to use automatic and manual sphygmomanometers, stethoscopes, and practiced their technique on each other.

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While the high school students really enjoyed taking each other’s heart rate and blood pressure and learning how pharmacists and other health care providers would use that information, they also got to experience a specialty that only pharmacists can do – compounding, or the making of medicine.

The 11th graders learned from Dr. Sree Pattipati that compounding can be used to provide medication to patients in different forms – liquid suspensions or creams instead of a tablets – or doses and flavors that aren’t made by medication manufacturers. The compounding activity that students made on this day was a suspension.

A suspension is a mixture with solid particles that do not dissolve in the liquid. The suspension that the students made was an antacid – a medicine that neutralizes stomach acidity to relieve heartburn.

The students took pride in making their compounds and even added flavoring and coloring, which is commonly done in practice to help the medicine smell and taste better. After making their medication, the students bottled it and learned how to read the medication labels as well as the protocols and importance for ensuring the information is correct before the pharmacist signs off.

The next activity was in the research lab where Dr. Nathan Goldfarb, PhD, provided a general overview of the drug development process and presented an overview of some of his drug discovery examples for global epidemics such as, HIV and tuberculosis. Dr. Goldfarb then demonstrated some of the uses of the lab equipment, conducting a small experiment for the students to observe and understand how to analyze the results.

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To reinforce and help them retain the information learned throughout the day, the high school students were then engaged by Dr. Ofstad in a team-based learning exercise, which also served to introduce CHSU’s learning style to the students. The students were presented with a diabetes case about a patient and provided with some previous health history, dietary information, and prescribed medication and dosages. They worked in their teams and were guided by Dr. Ofstad to critically think about the information presented to identify areas in which the patient might improve his diet, lifestyle, and whether he is adhering to his prescribed medication. The students even learned the types of questions they might need to ask the patient to obtain a good picture of his situation. They did a great job solving the case and made excellent recommendations on how the patient can improve his health.

While the primary goal of the learning experience was to introduce the 11th graders to the role of health care providers and pharmacists, the most enriching part of the activity, was that the students learned that with some hard work, becoming a health professional is an attainable goal. The students also learned about some of the coursework, pathways, and helpful resources available to them as they work towards their college goals.

The pharmacy students benefitted with a valuable leadership and educational experience that will help them perform better in their program now and in the future when they are applying for internships, residencies and jobs.

Visit the CHSU facebook page to see the full photo album from the learning experience: