SPHS 9 29 16 pharmacy students

Pharmacy Students Provide Health Screenings and Education for Area Families

The Rialto Unified School District’s eighth annual Parents Summit on October 15 featured a new participant: pharmacy students from Keck Graduate Institute (KGI). They were also the first to ever offer health services at the event focused on STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics—and literacy education.

The School of Pharmacy students performed blood glucose and blood pressure screenings and educated the approximately 1,500 families in attendance about good health practices and diseases such as diabetes. They also provided insights into higher education and pharmacy careers, and the importance of science in building the skills and knowledge needed in healthcare and daily life.

“Having grown up in Rialto, I knew that the health screenings and education we offered were a much-needed resource. I wanted to give back to the community that helped me develop into the person I am today,” says Kim Nguyen, PharmD ’18, who coordinated KGI’s participation and is also the founder of KGI’s Come and Meet Pharmacy (PharmCAMP) program that exposes elementary and secondary school students to pharmacy and other STEM-related fields. “We chose services that would attract parents and offer the opportunity to inspire them to then inspire their children. When parents are passionate about their children’s education, that same passion is evident in their children.”

Nguyen had recruited members of several other student organizations to join her at the Parents Summit. These groups included KGI’s Oncology Club, Rare Disease Club and chapters of the California Pharmacy Association, Vietnamese American Pharmacy Student Association, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and Industry Pharmacists Organization.

“It was great to see our student pharmacists use what they have learned in school to make a difference in the community,” says School of Pharmacy Assistant Professor of Clinical Services Christine Cadiz, who also participated in the Parents Summit. “The number of blood glucose and blood pressure screenings they performed was tremendous, but even more impressive was the profound impact they made on the participants. Student pharmacists Alex Rosales, PharmD ’18, and Rupangi Patel, PharmD ’19, spent a great deal of time answering the questions of one very inquisitive young man whose mother said she wouldn’t be surprised if he pursued a pharmacy career.”

The event was equally inspiring for the KGI students. As Kristina Joo, PharmD ’19, says, “The experience reaffirmed for me why I chose pharmacy and why I aspire to become a clinical pharmacist one day.”

Another student, Russle Benson, PharmD ’19, adds, “It felt wonderful educating people about their health and inspiring students to pursue higher education.”

Nguyen and others at KGI are already talking about attending the 2017 Parents Summit. The interest is mutual. Nguyen explains, “Participants we encountered and served thanked us for our skills and requested our return next year. The mayor of Rialto also shared her excitement and appreciation, and she expressed support for our involvement in future events.”