P4 pharmacy student April Chapman

Professional Pharmacy Students Serve on the Pandemic Frontlines

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by Nicole Hackett, Student Public Relations Writer

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across America, hospitals and other medical facilities are on the frontlines. As part of this frontline effort, 38 fourth-year (P4) professional pharmacy students in the Cedarville University School of Pharmacy are helping combat the pandemic during their clinical rotations nationwide.

“Even in unprecedented and uncertain times, pharmacy students have a great opportunity to learn how to care for and serve patients in a health crisis,” said Dr. Thaddeus Franz, vice chair of experiential programs and associate professor of pharmacy practice. “As pharmacists and pharmacy students, this is what we have signed up for when we entered this profession.”

“In particular, our P4 advanced pharmacy practice experience students are just months away from working independently to care for patients,” he continued. “At this point, they might have to continue to care and serve patients that have the COVID-19 virus. Why would we not take advantage to give them experience now with proper oversight?”

— Thad Franz

While it is important for these students to complete their clinical rotations to fulfill their graduation requirements, it is also a benefit for the clinics and hospitals where these pharmacy students are working.

April Chapman, a P4 student from Denver, Colorado, on clinical rotation at Cleveland Clinic Marymount Family Pharmacy, has been on the frontlines during this pandemic as she provides medications for Cleveland Clinic employees and patients. At her clinic, she’s witnessed a change in safety procedures and helped the pharmacy provide curbside pickup.

“Our clinical rotations in the last year of pharmacy school provide vital hands-on training that prepares us to transition into the role of a pharmacist,” said Chapman. “If we had to forego our clinical rotations, we would be delayed in our licensing. More than that, this global pandemic is actually an amazing learning opportunity for us as students because we will be moving into the workforce shortly, and for pharmacists, that means moving to the frontlines.”

“Having advanced pharmacy practice experience students present with us during this crisis has been life-saving,” said Lydia Bailey, clinical pharmacy manager for the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy in Cincinnati. “Our delivery model has changed to a walk-up window, which requires more time in medication counseling and dispensing, and we have limited volunteer help outside of our interns.

“We feel confident that we are training students to be health care professionals willing to work on the frontlines and that they are gaining intangible life lessons through this experience.”  

“Health care professionals still need to stay on the frontlines to take care of people,” said Dr. Marc Sweeney, dean of the school of pharmacy and professor of pharmacy practice.

“Pharmacists are no different. So our students are continuing to be part of the solution. There is a shortage of health care workers right now, and our pharmacy students are helping fill that shortage as they continue to work to take care of people.”

But as the pharmacy students fight this pandemic, they are encouraged to take the proper safety measures.

“Even when we desire our students to receive these unique experiences, we want them to be safe and wise when caring for their patients,” said Franz. “Hand hygiene is of utmost importance. We are asking them to abide by the standards set at the site they are practicing, and universal precautions need to be taken when necessary. Daily emails have also been sent out by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy with additional tips and precautions to implement safe practices.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,380 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including its Doctor of Pharmacy program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about Cedarville University, visit www.cedarville.edu.