St. John’s will be celebrating American Pharmacists Month during the month of October. Events are planned throughout the month to draw attention to the profession and to help educate both students and patients.
“American Pharmacists Month is an exciting time of year during which pharmacists celebrate the rich history of the profession and also emphasize the important role that pharmacists play in healthcare today,” said Dean Robert Mangione of the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions.
One of the biggest events of this year’s celebration was the airing of a documentary featuring students and faculty from St. John’s. “Pharmacists: Unsung Heroes” was produced by PBS affiliate WLIW-TV from Long Island and aired on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
According to WLIW’s Web site, the one-hour special “explores the indispensable link between these medication use experts and the communities they serve, addressing the current shortage of pharmacists, the implications of this shortage on medical care in our communities, and the various career opportunities available.”
The filmmakers spent a great deal of time on St. John’s Queens campus, filming and interviewing students and faculty. They also attended commencement in May and spoke to graduating pharmacy students.
“I am honored that St. John’s was included in this wonderful documentary,” Mangione said. “I believe that those who see it will be very impressed by the important things that pharmacists do. I also hope that it will inspire students to want to become pharmacists.”
One of the most important elements of Pharmacy Month is the series of community outreach programs being hosted..
Students and faculty will host information sessions and distribute pamphlets to clear up any misunderstandings about medications, help reduce the risk of medication-related illness, and use medications carefully to ensure a faster recovery.
“It is a great opportunity to engage in patient education programs to help all patients to better understand how to take their medications and recognize how pharmacists can help them manage their healthcare needs,” Mangione said.
St. John’s is one of the most well known colleges of pharmacy in the country. Every year, students are turned away because of the small number of spaces available for students. There were nearly 2,000 applicants for the fall 2005 semester, and only 300 spaces were available to be filled. There were also approximately 500 transfer applicants, none of whom could be accepted because of rules within the college.
“A lot of people want to enter, but admissions are very competitive,” said Svetlana Fortel, a third year pharmacy student.
Student Dan King explained that the lack of available spaces is a problem in pharmacy schools nationwide.
“Pharmacy schools across the country have not expanded their class sizes as no school wants to be seen as watering down their graduating class,” King said.
Pharmacy students face rigorous training once they enter the University. At St. John’s, students go through a six-year program in order to receive a Doctor of Pharmacy, the only degree available at accredited pharmacy schools.
Pharmacy Month looks to celebrate work done by all those students who are accepted and who are willing to put in the required work to achieve their goal of becoming pharmacists.
“I truly believe that we have tremendous students and a great faculty,” Mangione said. “I believe that the particular niche for our school is that whenever possible we try to focus on providing outstanding care for all patients, particularly the medially underserved in urban areas.”
A great deal of events have been planned for the month. A clinical skills competition was held on Oct. 17. On Oct. 18, nationally renowned author Katherine Eban, author of “Dangerous Doses: How Counterfeiters are Contaminating America’s Drug Supply,” spoke to students in Marillac Auditorium.
Also planned are a trivia challenge hosted by Phi Delta Chi, the national pharmacy fraternity (Oct. 21), the white coat ceremony for third year pharmacy students (Oct. 24), and pharmacy association day and pharmacy student awards night (Oct. 26).
The celebration is one that is greatly anticipated by the members of the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, both students and faculty.
“We very much look forward to American Pharmacists Month each year,” Mangione said. “It is my hope that we contribute to fulfilling the wonderful Vincentian Mission that is St. John’s University.”