Pharmacy students accepting award

UH Hilo pharmacy students, from left, Preston Young, Karen Christian, Matt Chen, Tiffany Alberg and Joyce Tapuro

Student pharmacists from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP) were recognized as the Most Improved Chapter at the national American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Baltimore, Maryland on March 6.

The students competed against chapters across the country from within the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhAASP).

APhAASP was one of the first student organizations at DKICP since the college began in 2007. They are active in multiple community wellness programs and health fairs and successfully organized a student-run initiative to help pass a Hawaiʻi state law allowing first-year pharmacy students to receive their intern licenses, according to Matt Chen, 2015–16 APhAASP president-elect from DKICP class of 2018, who attended the conference.

“Student pharmacists with intern licenses can give immunizations and perform other healthcare support for members of the public,” Chen said. “This development is important because it expands healthcare for our Big Island community, enriches the PharmD program for current students and makes DKICP more attractive to prospective students.”

The chapter also implemented three new patient care projects designed to improve healthcare throughout Hawaiʻi—Operation Immunization, Operation Diabetes and Generation Rx. In Operation Immunization, the group organized 12 events in less than four months in medically underserved areas of the Big Island. This expansion resulted in the vaccination of more than 145 community members last year.

“This award says a lot, especially since we are a newer school and we are being compared to schools that have had APhAASP chapters for decades,” said Elizabeth Ackerman, who was faculty co-adviser for the group last year and is an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice. “It means that our chapter has made some significant improvements and that the awards committee members were impressed. It’s wonderful.”

More about the APhAASP awards

The award is part of the organization’s Chapter Achievement Awards Program, which was established in 1974 to recognize outstanding activities of APhAASP chapters at the schools and colleges of pharmacy in the United States and Puerto Rico. The program is an extension of APhAASP’s mission to provide opportunities for professional growth and improve patient care while advancing the future of pharmacy.