At UH Hilo’s pharmacy college, Nicole Young develops interprofessional education for pharmacy, nursing, and medical students, with the goal of improving essential teamwork skills and the culture of the healthcare workforce.
This story is part of a series on newly tenured faculty.
An alumna from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s pharmacy program is now a tenured associate professor at her alma mater’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.
Nicole Young, who received her doctor of pharmacy degree from UH Hilo in 2015 and became a member of the pharmacy college’s faculty in 2017, received tenure and promotion this year. Young began teaching at the college in 2016 during her specialized residency in critical care. Her current practice is at the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit at The Queen’s Medical Center on O‘ahu.
“Tenure is, to me, a very special thing,” says Young, who teaches introductory pharmacy practice experiences (IPPE) and advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPE) rotations and lectures in the areas of critical care and oncology. “I feel very honored to have received tenure because, to me, it means that the university has invested in me and trusts that I will continue to provide good education for our students.”
“It also means that I should uphold my commitment to providing excellence in training future pharmacists and improving the healthcare workforce and patient health,” she adds.
At the college, Young develops and facilitates interprofessional education such as simulations and scenarios for pharmacy, nursing, and medical students, with the goal of improving essential teamwork skills and the culture of the healthcare workforce.
“Traditionally, these healthcare professions were taught separately and it became difficult to communicate with each other,” she explains. “More and more we’re leaning towards working collaboratively in our medication therapies and decisions, which makes it a lot safer for patient care and better for patient outcomes.”
Young’s aim is to foster future professionals who are prepared to apply their knowledge from the classroom to be excellent critical thinkers, patient-centered, and great communicators. “This is a difficult skill to learn, and I am proud to have been a part of fostering the growth of many successful pharmacists.”
Before her residency at UH Hilo, Young completed another residency at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Washington state, where she felt she had great mentors not only in the pharmacy school but also in the hospital. Here is where she found interest in researching and elucidating health disparities among different ethnicities to improve patient care.
Now part of her work in Hawai‘i is in studying health disparities in Filipinos and other ethnicities among stroke patients.
“This area is, especially in Hawai‘i, a very important area to look at to make sure that we’re treating all patients equally, and to make sure that if there are health differences that we approach the patients more individually so they get the best care that they can.”
During the time of the pandemic, Young also was involved with the rolling out of COVID-19 vaccines in Hawai‘i and helped facilitate student involvement at vaccination clinics.
“It’s great real-world work experience for the students, and it helps to demonstrate the value our profession brings in serving our communities,” she says.
Young says all her teaching and projects are dedicated to improving the health of the population and the future of healthcare. She has taught five graduating classes since starting at UH Hilo and plans to continue building interprofessional education to better the future of healthcare professionals from both inside and outside the classroom.
“There are a lot of students who have gone on to become leaders themselves in their profession, so it makes me feel very proud to see that,” she says. “But I’m not really surprised. I think that everybody has it in them to succeed. As long as I’m able to help spark that fire, I feel like all students have the opportunity.”
Edited by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor.