Student pharmacists showcase skills, provide education on Capitol Hil

SPM: Health Fair


On September 17, student pharmacists from five schools in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, gathered in the Rayburn House Office Building foyer for a health fair on Capitol Hill. Their goal for the day was to promote the recognition of pharmacists and student pharmacists as able and willing health care professionals. Students provided blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, body composition, and bone density screenings for members of Congress and their staff. Just in time for flu season, representatives from Walgreens attended the event to provide free flu vaccinations.

Twlug, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and Walgreens hosted the event. The collaboration was a great example of national organizations working together.  

Provider status

The event allowed students pharmacists to showcase the skills they have acquired both in the classroom and in experiential education, and provided an easy and accessible way to talk with staff members about H.R. 4190. 

H.R. 4190 centers around pharmacists improving access to care, and the health fair mirrored that very thought. Student pharmacists provided an opportunity for staff members to experience first-hand the services that pharmacists can provide. For some staff members, it marked the first time that they had received a screening in a long time, a sign that pharmacists can play an important role in increasing access to care. For others, they had such high thoughts of the previous year’s screenings that they made it a point to return. The health fair attracted a crowd of more than 200 individuals and 6 conrgressional representatives, including Rep. Brett Guthrie (R–KY), one of the lead sponsors of H.R. 4190, and Rep. Austin Scott (R–GA), co-chair of the House Community Pharmacy Caucus.

Student reaction

Rep. Brett Guthrie, a lead sponsor of H.R. 4190, takes part in the health fair on Capitol Hill.

Events such as this highlight the push to become providers and help show how pharmacists impact patients’ lives. Students from the participating schools found the health fair to be highly successful and a great representation of ways in which student pharmacists can advocate for the profession.

Gina Fu, a second-year PharmD candidate at the Shenandoah University Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy, said it was “inspiring to see everyone empower themselves by taking time out of their hectic schedules to get screened and take control of their own health.”

Alexandra Ashworth, a third-year PharmD candidate at the Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy, noted the event marked an important indicator of student-led advocacy. “We have already chosen to be advocates for patients and advocating for bills such as H.R. 4190 only solidifies our commitment. We have the opportunity to take part in the ownership of an important change in the access to care and minimizing long-term health care costs associated with uncontrolled disease states that are otherwise preventable,” Ashworth said.

Make a difference

You can make a difference by advocating at all levels of government. H.R. 4190 is an important step in moving the profession forward at the national level, and student pharmacists have an important part to play in the process regardless of where they are located. Send letters to your representatives asking them to support the bill and personalize them with stories of your own services to the community. Arrange a meeting with them when they are in their home district office or speak with a member of their health care staff. Invite them to a local health fair that your chapter is hosting.

Student pharmacists can play an important role in advocacy and this is an exciting and promising time to get involved!