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Student Pharmacists Assist in Community Care

Mumps vaccine

Third-year pharmacy student Tram Huong Pham coordinated a large mumps vaccination effort in Spokane.

By Lori Maricle

In response to an outbreak of mumps in the area, 64 Washington State University College of Pharmacy students participated in 17 immunization clinics at schools and organizations in January and February.

“During the first clinic at Salvation Army, we served 156 patients and administered 294 vaccines,” said WSU student pharmacist Tram Huong Pham, class of 2018, who spearheaded the coordination of student volunteers for the clinics.

“I’m proud that student pharmacists were able to promote immunization and increase awareness of the important role pharmacists play in public health,” she said.

The role of pharmacists has grown from traditional dispensing of medications to a patient-centered, administrative and public health focus, she said. “The importance of patient care during a disease outbreak is vital. I am glad I’m in a profession that prepares and allows me to perform these crucial public health functions.”

WSU student pharmacists are taught to give immunizations at the beginning of their second year of pharmacy school. The College of Pharmacy teamed with the Spokane Regional Health District and Walgreens to conduct the clinics.

Pham worked closely with classmates Natalie Tucker and James Kent, with whom she serves on the WSU Operation Immunization team, as well as Walgreens District Manager Nick Bruck who donated his time to help the students organize the clinics. As a result of his efforts Bruck won the City of Spokane’s Community Impact Award in April.

“Without Nick’s initiative and commitment to advancing our students’ learning, they would not have had this hands-on experience that helped them realize the public health impact they can make as future pharmacists,” said Linda Garrelts MacLean, vice dean for External Relations in the College of Pharmacy. Bruck has been a longtime friend and alumnus of the college.

Operation Immunization is a nationwide educational and service campaign to increase awareness of immunizations and the number of adults receiving them.