NEOMED Pharmacy Students Give Back By Helping with COVID-19 Vaccinations
Written by Kelly Jeroski
March 18, 2021
Sixty first-year College of Pharmacy students are now certified and have begun to actively contribute to the massive effort of administering COVID-19 vaccinations to the public.
Kunal Amin, Pharm.D., R.Ph., director of clinical services for NEOvations RX and assistant professor of pharmacy practice, led the COVID-19 vaccination and certification training, which was available to local pharmacy technicians and pharmacists as well as to the group of NEOMED pharmacy students.
First-year pharmacy student Momitul Talukdar said, “With the current circumstances, I knew that now more than ever, we needed more trained individuals to administer this vital vaccine. The more hands the better!”
In addition to preparing students to help others during the pandemic, here's what College of Pharmacy faculty members Fady Abdlrasul, Pharm.D. and Kevin Fuschetto Pharm.D., BCACP, BC-ADM had to say about NEOMED's role in the vaccine distribution:
Why do you think it’s important that the NEOMED students help distribute COVID-19 vaccines?
Abdlrasul: I believe it’s important that NEOMED students are part of the COVID-19 relief efforts by administering COVID-19 vaccines because as health care professionals, we serve an oath to care for our patients to the highest extent we can. This is a great experience for our students, and it really shows them just how vital of a role pharmacists play in caring for our patients.
Fuschetto: I have been passionate about immunizations my entire pharmacy career. Throughout this pandemic, I have tried my best to assist those who have suffered from COVID-19. Now with multiple vaccines available, pharmacy has an opportunity to have a direct impact on ending this pandemic. NEOMED students have the same opportunity. By helping to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines, students are able to apply what they have learned to direct patient care. NEOMED students are vital to increase the immunization rates as we move into this phase of the pandemic.
How do you see the vaccine impacting the community?
Abdlrasul: These vaccines are a game changer. Everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 in some way or another, and these vaccines offer hope that we can soon return to a life of normalcy. As pharmacists, it’s our role to educate our patients on the safety and efficacy of these vaccines and to address any concerns patients may have about receiving the vaccine.
Fuschetto: I have already seen the vaccine impact my community. I have had the ability to provide the COVID-19 vaccines to much of the community. Everyday, I am struck by the excitement and relief of those receiving their vaccine. Just the other day, one patient was close to tears as she explained how she had not seen her grandchildren in-person for almost a year and receiving her vaccine meant she would be able to hold them again. It was a truly touching moment.
What do you think is most unique or valuable about the pharmacy program at NEOMED?
Abdlrasul: The most unique and valuable aspect of having the Rootstown Community Pharmacy on the NEOMED campus is that it offers local and convenient access to pharmacy services for our campus population as well as the local Rootstown community. Being a locally-owned, independent pharmacy, we often know our patients on a personal level and don’t just treat them like a number. We also work closely with other health care professionals on campus and in the community, including theSumma Health Family Medicine Center as well as the Student-Run Free Clinic.
Fuschetto: NEOMED provides our students with an exceptional education in our classrooms, but we are also able to provide many different opportunities to be involved in direct patient care.
Why do you think pharmacy is an important and valuable field to study?
Abdlrasul: I believe that pharmacy is an important and valuable field to study because pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers. About 90% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a pharmacy. Patients can easily reach their pharmacists to obtain medical advice at no charge. Pharmacists also continue to rank among the top most trusted professionals in the nation. The field of pharmacy continues to grow rapidly. Pharmacists are being embedded in many different areas of health care including hospitals and clinic settings. Completing 1-2 years of residency training after obtaining a Pharm.D. allows pharmacists to obtain a position in almost every department of a hospital, including the emergency room, critical care unit, and internal medicine. A residency can also allow pharmacists to obtain a position in the ambulatory care setting where they can then take a larger role in the care of their patients by prescribing and adjusting doses of medications under a collaborative practice agreement with another prescriber. I, personally, like to tell our students that there is an area of pharmacy for every personality type.
Fuschetto: Pharmacy is an important field to study because there is so much you can do with your degree. Pharmacy has changed much since I graduated in 2007. There are many different careers paths that can be followed. I have had the opportunity to practice in the community setting, hospital setting, ambulatory care setting, consulting, and now in the academic setting. The opportunities are endless if you have the drive and passion for pharmacy.
Are there any emerging trends or developments in pharmacy that you find exciting?
Abdlrasul: I find it so exciting that pharmacists are truly beginning to be recognized for the value that they can add to the health care team and to patient care. Many health care systems are beginning to see how investing in a pharmacist can save them money while improving the health of their patients. In the U.S., we pay more for health care than any other industrialized country in the world, with almost $300 billion of that being due to medication errors or patients not taking their medications properly. Being the medication experts, this provides the perfect opportunity for pharmacists to step in to ensure the medications our patients are taking are safe and effective as well as ensuring that patients are well aware of how to take their medications and what to expect. I’m looking forward to seeing how the profession continues to grow in the future.
Fuschetto: Looking forward, I am hopeful and excited about new opportunities. I have personally seen the expansion of the pharmacy profession into other practice sites. We have an opportunity to truly become a trusted member of the health care delivery team. This might be though collaborative practice agreements between our community pharmacies and local physicians or starting new immunization services or providing more clinical services in the hospital setting. Now is a great time for entrepreneur pharmacists to create and innovate how the future of pharmacy practice will look.
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Assistant Director of Admission