Earning National Recognition for Exemplary Student Work

Pharmacy students earned awards from the APhA, Rho Chi and AMCP at their annual events.

Pharmacy students Erica Huang (leaning), Brigitte Nguyen, Helen Shin (standing), Elizabeth Klueger and Matthew Caplis prepare to do diabetes screenings at the San Gabriel Interdisciplinary Health Fair.  (photo by David Seto)

The USC chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists took home two individual and three group awards at the APhA 2014 Annual Meeting & Exposition in Orlando, Florida, March 28-31.  Additionally, students were recognized at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Foundation’s Annual Meeting & Expo and at the Rho Chi Society annual event.

USC’s Operation Diabetes outreach project received top honors, earning the national award for its dedication and accomplishments under the leadership of directors Erica Huang and Helen Shin. The patient care project aims to battle diabetes through providing screenings and educational services.

“Our goal this year as directors of Operation Diabetes was to reach out to racial and ethnic minorities, especially American Indians/Alaskan Natives, who have the highest prevalence of diabetes,” says Huang. “Through our collaboration with the United American Indian Initiative, we provided American Indians/Alaskan Natives at risk for diabetes with the resources necessary for continued diabetes care. Prior to our involvement, the Healthy Roads Diabetes Program – a national wellness and prevention program – did not have adequate funding to provide the diabetes screenings required to enroll this target population into their clinic.”

In addition to providing screenings, another important aspect of Operation Diabetes is to educate at-risk populations about the disease while creating awareness of the services offered by pharmacists and student pharmacists.

“To increase awareness of the prevalence of diabetes and the role that pharmacists play in patient care, we collaborated with several health professional schools to hold an interdisciplinary health fair during Diabetes Awareness Month,” says Shin. “In preparation for the health fair we worked with State Legislator and former San Marino Mayor Dr. Matthew Lin, to expand upon the impact that pharmacists have as health care providers.”

In addition to numerous health fairs, participants in Operation Diabetes partook in international and local outreach events, including a Ghana clinic abroad and presentations at local safety-net clinics. This year, USC Operation Diabetes took part  in 29 events, where 1,727 participants were screened for diabetes as well as educated on disease state prevention and management.

Other award winners at the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition were Daniel Kudryashov, winner of the Good Government Student Pharmacist-of-the-Year Award, and Amanda Wong who was honored with the Robert D. Gibson Scholarship.    USC’s Operation Heart was Second Runner Up in the nation for their efforts in the prevention and control of heart disease while Operation Self Care, focusing on heartburn, was the Region 8 winner.

The School’s Theta Chapter of the Rho Chi society was selected to receive the National Chapter Achievement Award which recognizes its commitment to fulfilling the society’s mission.  Emily Choi is chapter president and Associate Dean Michael Wincor is the group’s advisor.

The school also received recognition at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Foundation’s 26th Annual Meeting & Expo, held in Tampa, Florida, April 1-4. Pharmacy students Shannon Dervin, Kevin Hong, Karen Kowalski and Aidan Metzinger, along with faculty advisor Ed Lieskovan, came in second place during the 14th Annual National Student Pharmacist Pharmacy & Therapeutics Competition, earning USC a $1,500 scholarship.