Leading with Virtue
The College of Pharmacy (COP) Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) chapter presented a pharmacy career exploration event on April 16 to the Chicago-based Ladies of Virtue (LOV), a nonprofit mentoring and leadership program for girls ages 9–18 from underserved communities. The event was supported by Walgreens Diversity Dollars, which COP received to develop programming that helps bring about a more diverse and inclusive pharmacy practice community. The day’s agenda was inspired by LOV’s mission to instill purpose, passion and perseverance in girls while preparing them for college, careers and becoming change agents in their communities.
The pharmacy students discussed the educational path to becoming a pharmacist and the important role pharmacists play in the delivery of care at both patient and population health levels. They also led the LOV students through hands-on activities including a mock compounding exercise and learning to use an EpiPen. The event was SNPhA’s first in-person program with LOV following two years of virtual activities due to the COVID pandemic, according to Tila Thomas, COP ’23, SNPhA’s chair of multicultural affairs.
April’s event was eagerly anticipated by both SNPhA and LOV students alike. “I think I was as excited as they were,” Ms. Thomas recalled. “It was such a good time, we spent a whole morning with these girls, and everybody seemed really into what we were doing. I’m glad we were able to meet them where they are and give our presentation.”
“We’re here as people who have been in your shoes, being that age and not knowing where we’re going, what we want to do or exactly how to do it.”
For the compounding activity, the LOV students used a roll of Smarties candies, some simple syrup and a mortar and pestle to simulate making a medication suspension. Ms. Thomas and her fellow SNPhA students also taught the LOV girls how to administer an EpiPen so they would know how to use it should the need arise. “The students had a ton of questions about the EpiPen. We used a practice model that doesn’t actually deliver an injection, and they all practiced on each other. I thought it would be a quick part of the presentation, but the students had so many questions,” Ms. Thomas said.
Another important aspect of these exercises was seeing the patient counseling component of pharmacy practice, said Jolee Rosenkranz, MPH, associate dean for external relations, instructor of pharmacy practice and faculty advisor for SNPhA.
“This was so crucial, because it emphasized the importance of the patient-pharmacist dynamic and also sparked discussions about the myths and misconceptions about vaccines,” she said. “What was so amazing was seeing how the pharmacy students responded to the LOV students’ enthusiasm, and knowing that both groups were getting so much out of this experience.”
The COP-LOV partnership also creates opportunities for SNPhA students to serve as mentors and role models. “LOV programming is geared toward helping students from middle school up until college, so in terms of mentorship, we can say to these girls, ‘We’re here as people who have been in your shoes, being that age and not knowing where we’re going, what we want to do or exactly how to do it,’” Ms. Thomas said.
“What our students have done really successfully is not just advocating for pharmacy, but supporting our mission of building a more diverse pharmacy workforce,” Ms. Rosenkranz added.
Sara Skoog is a staff writer with RFU’s Division of Marketing and Brand Management. In addition to writing for Helix and other university publications, she also produces Pulse, RFU’s monthly e-newsletter.