SNPhA spends spring/summer semester promoting community health initiatives
Wayne State’s chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association has been busy mobilizing its members to serve the local community with various public health initiatives. As an educational service association of pharmacy students who are concerned about the profession of pharmacy, health care issues and the poor minority representation in these areas, the mission of SNPhA sees its student leaders planning, organizing, coordinating and executing programs geared toward the improvement of the health, educational and social environment of minority communities.
“The objective of our organization is to offer our student pharmacists opportunities to develop leadership and professional skills while educating communities on better health practices,” said SNPhA President Joseph Paul Javier. “While many organizations may see the spring/summer break as a time to slow down, our SNPhA chapter considers this the perfect opportunity to get out into the local community and serve the public.”
Mental health awareness
SNPhA has eight initiatives that it promotes throughout the year, ranging from fighting diabetes to educating the public about HIV/AIDS prevention. During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, SNPhA chapters worked to break down barriers and change the way people everywhere embrace mental health.
One in five adults will struggle with a mental health issue this year and every group of individuals is impacted in some capacity, from minority communities and veterans to the elderly and the young. SNPhA’s mental health initiative encourages students to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to talk with patients about their mental health and to strengthen their mental well-being so we can bring out the best in ourselves and others.
In order to further this initiative, Wayne State’s SNPhA students and faculty advisor Dr. Dennis Parker recently visited Vista Maria to give a presentation on depression and mental health. Located in Dearborn Heights, Vista Maria is a healing resource center that fosters restorative relationships to deliver innovative care, treatment, and education to vulnerable youth and families.
“Pharmacists play an important role in providing behavioral health care and helping patients find resources available in their community,” Javier said. “Our presentation with Vista Maria was the first of several projects our organization is working on for the spring/summer. Our SNPhA chapter will be partnering with other local organizations and universities in Michigan to further this initiative and bring mental health awareness to various communities throughout the state. Specifically, we want to reach out to minority populations that have been struggling with isolation and depression because of the pandemic.”
Operation Immunization is an awareness campaign designed to increase knowledge as well as the number of adults and children receiving immunizations. SNPhA chapters are encouraged to actively partner with pharmacists, physicians, nurses and other health care professionals certified to administer immunizations and provide the public with education. By participating in this initiative, student pharmacists are helping the pharmacy profession in the fight against the growing incidence, morbidity and mortality associated with vaccine-preventable diseases. Student pharmacists are also furthering the image of pharmacists as active members in the health care community. Collaborations with other health care professionals also serve to develop better interprofessional relationships.
“As a future pharmacist, I want to give back to my community and be a role model for people of color,” said Johnie L. Bailey, SNPhA delegate and interim chairman for Operation Immunization. “Getting the community vaccinated against COVID-19 is very important to me. However, if you look in the news, Detroit’s minority communities are not getting immunized at a rate on par with the rest of the nation. This has to do with reasons like vaccine hesitancy, access to transportation and other socioeconomic factors. I am proud that our SNPhA members are working toward promoting equitable access to the vaccine and other health care services in and around Detroit.”
Bailey has been working diligently over the spring to help coordinate Wayne State SNPhA members to work and volunteer at various COVID-19 clinics in the metro Detroit area. SNPhA specifically targeted immunization efforts at minority cultural centers and local schools.
“Aside from these opportunities to put shots in arms and apply what we’ve been learning in school, our Operation Immunization initiatives have been the first time many of us have seen our classmates face-to-face,” Bailey said. “Previously, we haven’t been able to build rapport because of the pandemic. Zoom classes just cannot facilitate this. Thankfully, working these vaccine clinics with our SNPhA members let us finally meet in person and get some hands-on experience in the field. I am excited to meet more of my schoolmates as our team is coordinating more clinics for later this summer.”
To learn more, visit the SNPhA Facebook page.