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Pharmacy students raise national profile in promoting wellness

Operation Diabetes earns top honors for outreach

by Kukla Vera
pharmacy health fair
Students prepare for diabetes screenings at a health fair. (Photo/David Seto)

The USC chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists took home two individual and three group awards at the APhA 2014 Annual Meeting & Exposition in Orlando, Fla. Students were also recognized at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Foundation’s Annual Meeting & Expo and at the Rho Chi Society’s annual event.

USC’s Operation Diabetes outreach project received top honors, earning the national award for its dedication and accomplishments under the leadership of directors Erica Huang and Helen Shin. The patient care project aims to battle diabetes by providing screenings and educational services.

“Our goal this year was to reach out to racial and ethnic minorities, especially American Indians/Alaskan Natives, who have the highest prevalence of diabetes,” Huang said. “Through our collaboration with the United American Indian Initiative, we provided American Indians/Alaskan Natives at risk for diabetes with the resources necessary for continued diabetes care.”

Prior to their involvement, she added, Healthy Roads Diabetes — a national wellness and prevention program — did not have adequate funding to provide the screenings required to enroll this target population into their clinic.

In addition to providing screenings, another aim of Operation Diabetes is to educate at-risk populations about the disease and create awareness of the services offered by pharmacists and student pharmacists.

“We collaborated with several health professional schools to hold an interdisciplinary health fair during Diabetes Awareness Month,” Shin said. “In preparation for the health fair, we worked with state legislator Matthew Lin to expand upon the impact that pharmacists have as health care providers.”

Disease prevention

Participants in Operation Diabetes took part in international and local outreach events, including a Ghana clinic abroad and presentations at local safety net clinics. This year Operation Diabetes had a role in 29 events where 1,727 participants were screened for diabetes and educated on disease state prevention and management.

Other award winners at the APhA Annual Meeting were Daniel Kudryashov, winner of the Good Government Student Pharmacist of the Year Award, and Amanda Wong, who was honored with the Robert D. Gibson Scholarship. USC’s Operation Heart was second runner-up in the nation for efforts in the prevention and control of heart disease; Operation Self Care, which focuses on heartburn, was the Region 8 winner.

The School of Pharmacy’s Theta chapter of the Rho Chi Society was selected to receive the National Chapter Achievement Award, which recognizes its commitment to fulfilling the society’s mission. Emily Choi is chapter president and Associate Dean Michael Wincor is the group’s adviser.

The school also received recognition at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Foundation’s 26th Annual Meeting & Expo, held in Tampa, Fla., April 1-4. Students Shannon Dervin, Kevin Hong, Karen Kowalski and Aidan Metzinger, along with faculty adviser Ed Lieskovan, took second place at the 14th Annual National Student Pharmacist Pharmacy & Therapeutics Competition, earning a $1,500 scholarship.

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