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On February 19, NYAM’s Office of School Health Programs partnered with NYAM Fellow Stuart Feldman, PhD, Dean of the Touro College of Pharmacy, to offer a special information session and tour of the school for students and parents in NYAM’s Scholars Program. Scholars are graduates of NYAM’s Junior Fellows program, which introduces eighth and ninth grade public school students to careers in the health professions and helps them develop the skills needed to conduct secondary research. The Scholars Program offers these students continued learning opportunities as they work toward pursuing careers in the health professions.
The aim of the event was to introduce Junior Fellows alumni to the field of pharmacy and consider it as a potential career path in the health professions. Dr. Feldman was joined by Touro faculty members Audrey Jacobson, MD, MPH, MA, Director of Public Health Education, Practice and Research, and Batoul Senhaji-Tomza, PharmD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacy and Health Outcomes. Dr. Jacobson and Dr. Senhaji-Tomza, who both hold MPH degrees in addition to their doctorates, are dedicated to shaping the pharmacy program to include public health.
Pharmacists are commonly associated with the practice of filling prescriptions, but as the presentations demonstrated, these healthcare professionals frequently take on a much wider range of roles. These can include working on interdisciplinary clinical teams or going beyond the individual patient level by focusing on issues as diverse as patient safety, health literacy, and both local and international population health.
“We started a program that wanted to see pharmacists do so much more than what the public thinks about pharmacy,” Dr. Feldman said. “‘Pills into bottles’ is a minor part of what pharmacy will be in the future. Your education should prepare you for tomorrow’s industry.”
Dr. Jacobson explained that pharmacists can observe, evaluate, and collect data, and look at issues including quality of care and optimal health outcomes. They can also play an important role in prevention and health promotion. “It’s a much more expanded role for pharmacists in terms of health care,” she concluded.
“The broader experience [your education] gives you, the broader the opportunities you will have,” Dr. Senhaji-Tomza added.
Dr. Feldman stressed the importance of being able to interact with people of different cultures and backgrounds in order to effectively address the needs of diverse populations, emphasizing that Touro seeks to provide a “global experience.” Recently, a group of pharmacy students was trained to conduct screenings for blood pressure, diabetes and pulmonary function and traveled to India, where they screened more than 350 residents of slums. Touro also has programs and partnerships in Harlem and other underserved communities in New York City, and is committed to addressing the needs of these populations.
The event also included an interactive presentation by Thomas J. Cook, PhD, RPh, Associate Professor and Director of Program Assessment in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, who taught the Scholars about formulations and compounding—the different physical forms that drugs take and the ways in which they are made. He also gave the group a tour of the college’s classrooms, lecture halls, and labs where students practice pharmacy techniques.
“It’s broadened my view of what I want to do,” Amrita, a Scholar from Forest Hills High School said. “I think I might want to go into pharmacy. I think it’s really interesting.”
“It was great,” said Iktider, a senior at Robert H. Goddard High School who has already applied to pharmacy undergraduate programs. “It gave us a taste of how pharmacy school is going to be. I’m thinking of getting the MPH now to broaden my skill set.”
Jasmine, a Junior Fellows alumna from Robert H. Goddard High School said that the tour and information session, “..made me consider traveling to different countries while attending a pharmacy school program to teach the natives various techniques in medicine.” She hopes to be able to intern, volunteer or shadow a pharmacist to gain more experience in the field.
“The students and parents in attendance learned a lot about the field of pharmacy and how it relates to public health. It was fascinating to see how many pathways there are within pharmacy and how it’s much more than just counting pills,” said Melissa Mendelson, MPH, Project Director for The Junior Fellows and Scholars Programs at NYAM.
Posted on February 22, 2013
Andrew J. Martin
Director of Communications
The New York Academy of Medicine
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Andrew J. Martin, Director of Communications
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This report identifies opportunities that build on both the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) and New York’s ongoing efforts toward improving the health of its 19 million residents.
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