Student pharmacists earn national award for Pacific Islander Mobile Screening Clinic

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Date: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

A team of student pharmacists from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo attained the top spot in a national pharmacy organization’s student community service awards.

The American Association of College of Pharmacy (AACP) named Shanele Shimabuku (Class of 2013), Jed Sana, Tracy Nakama, Ann Txakeeyang, Brianne Gustillo, Amanda Wendel and Naoto Oki (Class of 2014) and Davis Hanai (Class of 2015) as the top team to have earned The Student Community Engaged Service Award.

The award, sponsored by Teva Pharmaceuticals, is “intended to encourage students and faculty to design and build programs of community-engaged service learning, deliver consumer education about medication use, expand access to affordable medications, and improve the public's health.”

The award-winning project is called the Pacific Islander Mobile Screening Clinic (PIMSC), which seeks to improve public health and access to people largely from the Marshall Islands through the use of health fairs and wellness clinics. Students conducted diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, as well as provided wellness and lifestyle counseling and referrals to accessible health care services offered at reasonable costs.

Through collaboration with the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) and networking with other community organizations island-wide, the PIMSC has screened more than 350 participants so far this year through mobile screening clinics. PIMSC participants are invited back for follow-up, and Hawaiʻi County residents are welcome to take advantage of regularly scheduled clinic office hours at the free ADRC Wellness and Safe Medication Use Clinic run by Dr. Katherine Anderson and second-year pharmacy students.

“Part of the beauty is that students and our community partners serve when they are able and so there is a fluid combination of different members volunteering at different times,” said Anderson, who is the faculty adviser for the project. “In this way, in addition to providing an important service for our patients, the overall educational experience of our student pharmacists is enriched.”

The students were awarded plaques and a cash team prize to be used for enhancing or sustaining PIMSC, or for travel support for them to attend and present their projects at a professional meeting.

The College also received a cash award to be used exclusively to support program expansion of recognized or new community engaged service projects, as well as a Tiffany & Co. Shooting Star. One designated student and faculty advisor will receive funding to attend the national awards ceremony at AACP’s 2013 annual meeting that will be held in Chicago this July.

Txakeeyang, who is the lead author on a poster that will be presented at a conference for the American Pharmacists Association (AphA) March 1-4 in Los Angeles, said PIMSC has come a long way since beginning in 2010. She said being a part of the mobile clinic has helped her and her fellow students become better future pharmacists.

“By reaching out to disenfranchised Pacific Islanders and giving us hands-on, real professional pharmacy experience working with people, we as student pharmacists have the ability to increase our cultural awareness,” Txakeeyang said. “One of our greatest accomplishments this year was establishing relationships with some of the Marshallese leaders. This allowed us to build bridges with a group of individuals who typically do not seek health care due to barriers such as language and health care access.”

The Marshallese Mobile Screening Clinic got its start with funding from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy’s Student Leadership Enrichment fund. In March 2012, it was named one of 17 Healthy Eating and Active Living projects to receive funding from the Hawaiʻi Island Beacon Community.

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