Best in the Nation for Patient Care

At this year’s American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Annual Meeting & Exposition, held March 1-4 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the School of Pharmacy’s Academy of Student Pharmacists chapter took home the National Patient Care Award.

According to the American Pharmacists Association, this award is given “to the chapter with the greatest level of impact and involvement in patient care.”  The award recognizes achievements done in the 2011-2012 academic year.

“This recognition represents the collective effort of an entire school to push ourselves across all aspects of patient care,” says Andrew Warnock,  president of the American/California Societies of Health-system Pharmacists student chapter at USC. “There are over 100 chapters nationwide, and many of them perform admirable work in their community, but nobody does as much as we do here at USC, and nobody does it as well.”

Under the leadership of Warnock and Bonny Chan,  American/California Pharmacists Associations student chapter president, the School of Pharmacy’s American Pharmacy Student Alliance (APSA) has screened and educated over 3,477,491 people at various health fairs and community events.  APSA is the umbrella organization for the five professional student organizations at the School of Pharmacy.  In addition, the APSA board has implemented three new projects over the 2012-2013 academic year.

These include the Senior Home Project, a collaborative, interdisciplinary project in which student pharmacists take patient care directly to seniors living in assisted care facilities associated with the Hope through Housing Foundation. Teams of medical, pharmacy and physician assistant students visited senior citizens at these facilities to provide screening, education and medication reconciliation for 83 patients there.

Another new project is the Medical and Pharmacy Student Collaboration, which provides coordinated, continuous and comprehensive care to patients in the downtown Los Angeles community, while exposing students in the health professions to the concept and importance of interdisciplinary care. Students used facilities at the nearby Los Angeles County Hospital to set up a free interdisciplinary clinic that targeted uninsured and homeless populations of Los Angeles. Several times per semester, a team of medical, pharmacy and physician assistant students would work together to provide care. In its inaugural year, 264 patients were seen.

Finally, APSA participated in Script Your Future, an American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy endeavor between schools of pharmacy. APSA designed and implemented surveys and interventions to improve medication adherence, and provided brown bag screenings and workshops at the Braille Institute, YMCA, safety net clinics and senior homes.

In addition to winning the National Patient Care award, the School of Pharmacy also received the Region 8 Operation Heart Award in recognition of the efforts of USC’s Operation Heart patient care project, which includes Project Hypertension, Smoking Cessation, Cholesterol Awareness, Healthy Living and Body Fat Analysis. Over the course of the year, Operation Heart had 5,000 participants under the leadership of Director Anna Deng.

One aspect that made the School of Pharmacy’s approach to Operation Heart unique was its dedication to culturally diversity, a necessity in such an ethnically varied community. Operation Heart developed a booklet with information on each of its screening projects, as well as medication compliance and diet recommendations, which was translated into Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Korean to ensure that the most patients would be able to reap the benefits of this educational tool.

While the USC APhA-ASP chapter has had a widespread reach, Warnock has lofty goals for the organization’s future. “The number that truly matters is 2.7 million: the number of uninsured individuals in L.A. County, a huge unmet need where student pharmacists can make a difference,” says Warnock. “That is what motivates us to continue to develop new ways of working with our community and fellow clinicians, and to ensure that our interventions are both meaningful and tailored to the people that we see.”

Warnock and Chan both served during the 2011-2012 academic year.  Presidents of the organizations for the current academic year are Lydia Noh and Nina Bolour.