SCOUTStrong: Educating youth 
to “Be MedWise”

One to One

In October 2015, the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) launched a collaboration with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to give youths the opportunity to earn a Be MedWise patch for learning about the safe and responsible use of medicine. The SCOUTStrong Be MedWise Award was developed to teach Scouts how to use OTC medicines correctly and the importance of following the medication’s directions.

A patch for safe OTC use

The SCOUTStrong Be MedWise Award program is part of BSA’s SCOUTStrong Healthy Living Initiative. The program focuses on promoting active lifestyles, healthy eating, and emotional fitness. In addition to offering a Be MedWise patch, Scouts can earn patches for meeting daily activity goals, eating healthy snacks, drinking more water, and making other positive lifestyle decisions. 

“The SCOUTStrong Be MedWise Award program encourages youth to become educated about medications found in their homes and to take an active role in their own health care,” said Ray Bullman, executive vice president of NCPIE. “This is a great opportunity for pharmacists to get involved with the community and help younger patients understand the correct way to take OTC medications.”

Patient education

According to materials from Scholastic’s OTC Medicine Safety Program, approximately 10,000 youth and teens go to the emergency department every year because of OTC medication errors, and only around one-half of tweens understand that OTC medications can be harmful if not used properly. Scholastic also reported that some youth as young as 11 years old are self-medicating. 

All of these data points highlight the need for pharmacists to educate young people about how to take OTC medications safely.

BSA has nearly 2.5 million members between the ages of 7 years and 21 years, noted Bullman. “It is our hope that pharmacists, parents, and younger patients will use the SCOUTStrong Be MedWise Award program as a tool to lifelong responsible OTC medication use,” he added.

Four lessons 

“Pharmacists can play a key role in helping Scouts earn the patch,” said Bullman. The requirements to earn the patch combine best practices from NCPIE’s existing Be MedWise medicine education programs with the youth-focused medicine safety programs from FDA’s Medicines in My Home campaign, Scholastic Inc., and the American Association of Poison Control Centers. 

According to BSA, Scouts can earn the patch, which features an owl that represents wisdom, by completing an educational curriculum designed by NCPIE that includes the following:

  • Understanding what prescription and OTC medicines are and the ways they are similar and different

  • Learning how to use OTC medicines safely

  • Knowing what is on the Drug Facts label and how to follow dosing guidelines

  • Appreciating the importance of consulting a parent, trusted adult, or medical professional before taking medication and ensuring medicines are out of reach of younger siblings and children

Education materials from the SCOUTStrong program are free and available online for Scouts and other youth groups at . The materials are also available through NCPIE’s Be MedWise .