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Student Collaboration Earns National Recognition

Published on 01 December 2013

Students at St. Louis College of Pharmacy are setting an example of interprofessional collaboration. A team from STLCOP and Washington University were recognized with two awards from the National Consumers League.

“Our group worked together across disciplines to spread the message of taking medication as prescribed to more than 40,000 potential patients in the St. Louis area,” says fifth-year student Sonalie Patel (pictured on the left).

Patel led the team, which received a national Script Your Future Award from the National Consumers League. More than 80 colleges of pharmacy from across the country entered the competition, which was designed to increase medication adherence among patients with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

The College and Washington University focused on delivering the message, “See it, Hear it, Write it, Understand it, Share it.” They utilized social media, a television
appearance, and one-on-one interactions, earning them a special distinction award.

“We were the only group to win two awards,” Patel says. Patel was joined on the organizing committee by sixth-year student Libby Herman (second from right) and fourth-year student Patrick Hyatt (second from left). Students studying medicine, physical therapy, and occupational therapy at Washington University rounded out the committee.

“We’re teaching students the importance of interprofessional collaboration,” says group advisor Gloria Grice (right), Pharm.D., interim director of experiential programs at the College and associate professor of pharmacy practice. “All health care professionals, including pharmacists, physicians, and therapists, are working together more and more. Studies show that this model of care is in the best interest of patients.”

“By working so closely with the other professionals, we developed an appreciation for how they’re trying to help the patient,” Patel says. “I’ve studied how other professions handle patient care, but there’s no substitution for observing patient interaction firsthand. Seeing how other professionals discuss medication gives me a better understanding of the patient’s perspective and how I can be most effective on a patient-centered health care team.”

During the month of February, students promoted the Script Your Future campaign with each discipline delivering a message that supported the group’s efforts. Student pharmacists stressed the importance of using pill boxes and medication lists. Medical students ensured patients understood their conditions and the importance of taking medications. Physical therapy students talked about appropriate exercises based on medications and conditions. Occupational therapy students educated the public on tips to remember to take medications such as using alarm clocks or smartphone reminders. Faculty members from the College and Washington University assisted the team in its efforts.

Both Grice and Patel traveled to Washington, D.C., for the awards ceremony. There they met U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., MBA.

“One of her last acts as surgeon general was presenting our awards,” Patel says. “Afterward, we all went on a walk around the Capitol. I’ll never forget it.” One of Benjamin’s initiatives as surgeon general was promoting walking as a strategy to increase active living.

Patel says she’s beginning to see a change in attitude among students at all of the neighboring health care institutions.

“Before working together on this project, it was rare to see a Washington University medical student on our campus even though we are located within a few blocks of each other,” Patel says. “Now, we’re visiting each other and forming both professional and personal bonds. It’s important for students at all of the schools in this area to take advantage of our proximity.”

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