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MCPHS - Boston Spotlight

Advocacy Photo Challenge Winner

SSHP Spotlight

The Student Society of Health-System Pharmacy (SSHP) of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) – Boston was the winner of the “It’s Great to Advocate” Photo Challenge. SSHP’s across the country submitted photos of their advocacy efforts. Photos were submitted to a website where SSHPs were then invited to vote on the photos. MCPHS University – Boston’s photo received the most votes in the contest. MCPHS pharmacy student Jenny Nguyen describes her SSHP’s outreach effort.

What was the impetus for the project?

The motivation for our project was to expand the public’s knowledge of today’s patient-oriented pharmacist.

How was the project organized?

Our ASHP Pharmacy Carnival was held in Copley Square in Boston on September 15, 2018. The Pharmacy Carnival consisted of interactive booths that were setup by 15 different pharmacy organizations whom were invited from our university, as well as Northeastern University’s ASHP-SSHP. Each organization created an interactive game that would portray their organization’s mission while promoting the profession of pharmacy. A sample of some of the more popular games included the use of a duck pond, “Candy vs. Medicine” display boards, “Three-legged Surgical Scrubs” race, “Cleanroom Gowning-up” race, “Jeopardy Trivia,” as well as the more traditional booths involving blood pressure monitoring, among others. To promote and increase participation, visitors received a ticket at each booth that they participated in, which entered them into a raffle. Local merchants donated gift baskets/cards as prizes.

Was the project successful?

Our goal was to further educate the public on the continuing expanded role of pharmacists today. More than 250 visitors of all ages, from kids to elderly, as well as several tourists visiting from out of the state and outside the U.S. stopped by the carnival to learn more about pharmacy and the many services provided by today’s pharmacists. All visitors learned more about their health and the important role pharmacists play in the promotion of one’s health.

As a bonus, a group of international pharmacists visiting Boston attended the carnival and shared stories of their own pharmacy and how they are promoting pharmacy advocacy back home. Overall, the public left with a new image and greater appreciation for today’s pharmacist.

What lessons were learned from the project?

Pharmacy advocacy is needed more than ever. We were overwhelmed with the limited perceptions the public has about today’s pharmacists. Many visitors at our carnival were unaware of the length of time a pharmacist goes to school to, as they noted, “just to count and dispense medications.” Many walked away more willing to seek their pharmacist’s advice on a wide range of healthcare concerns. We also had visitors thinking we could “help refill their medications outside in the public.” It was rewarding to educate them on the many activities pharmacists perform each day. Many visitors told us that they thought the event was educational and memorable. Overall, this taught us that we need to better promote our profession and continue to educate on the important role pharmacists have as providers in managing patients’ health.

What are the SSHP’s future plans?

We will continue this annual event, expanding our reach to involve other nearby SSHPs. We are also thinking about incorporating an interprofessional education component in the future, all while maintaining a fun and interactive theme for families to enjoy.

What advice can you offer to colleagues at fellow SSHPs?

Showcase our profession and educate the public on the many different roles pharmacists hold. Continue to create a trustful relationship between the patient and the pharmacist in which patients feel comfortable reaching out to their pharmacist. This will increase patient education and adherence to their medications, resulting in a better understanding of their health.  

Why is it important for students to be involved in advocacy?

As students, we are the next generation of pharmacists and it is important for us to advocate for what our profession is and how we want to practice in the future. We need to be involved in advocacy early and voice our opinion so once we graduate, we are better prepared to be agents of change. It’s also important to show how pharmacists play a vital role in providing patient care.