Prescription for Service

Four PharmD Students Transform KGI Free Clinic from Dream to Reality

For four PharmD students at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), winning the regional Prescription of Service competition is only a small side effect on their path to achieving a much larger goal. They have set their sights on implementing an idea that will greatly affect the underserved community.

Samantha Garcia, Monique Macias, Huy Truong, and Melissa Vu represented the KGI School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) regional competition held earlier this year with their proposal of the KGI Free Clinic.

“Our combined passions led us to the idea of establishing the KGI Free Clinic, which is a student-run clinic,” Truong says. “The clinic aims to provide free healthcare services to the underserved community.”

“We believe the KGI Free Clinic will not only improve the health of the community, but it will also provide pharmacy, medical, and occupational therapy students the opportunity to reinforce and refine their clinical skills in a multi-disciplinary environment.”

The idea is already being implemented with the first dates for the KGI Free Clinic set for Saturday, April 27 and Saturday, May 4. The team ended up earning top honors in the regional competition, receiving a $2,500 grant and a spot at the national competition to be held during the SNPhA National Convention in Houston, Texas, from July 26-28.

“We’re all really excited about the opportunity to compete at a national level,” Garcia says. “But we’re even more excited and humbled that we won the grant to implement our idea and greatly impact the underserved community.”

To prepare, the team is working closely with their advisors, KGI assistant professors Jeniffer Hernandez and Mylene Manalo, along with other KGI faculty members Robert Stein, Daniel Kudo, and Stephanie Kourtakis. The four KGI students also have a Prescription for Service mentor, Mercer University’s Vi Nguyen, who also serves as the SNPhA National Diabetes Chair.

What were the keys to the group’s success at the regional level?

“As a team, we worked together by directing the video, writing the script, and producing the final product,” Vu says. “We were very determined to win because we all share an underlying passion in helping the underserved community. The competition has also greatly added to my student experience here at KGI by enhancing my teamwork skills.”

Team-based learning is at the core of the KGI curriculum and these four talented KGI PharmD students will carry those skills into the national spotlight in July at the national convention.

“Team-based experiences such as these competitions will ultimately help me better communicate with other pharmacists and healthcare professionals in the future,” Macias says. “As the role of pharmacists changes to include more clinical tasks, team skills will be particularly important for building collaborative agreements with physicians and other prescribers.”