Jeffrey Gower, the Pharmacy Times/ Walmart RESPy winner for June, embodies the spirit of leadership—in his tenure at the Idaho State University (ISU) College of Pharmacy, he has developed many projects from an initial idea to a fully realized and funded program.
As the founder and coordinator of “The Initiative: Taking Control of Diabetes,” Gower worked in conjunction with the Paul Ambrose Scholars Program to create and lead 6 weekly workshops for individuals with diabetes or prediabetes.
In the workshops, which were broken into 2-week lessons, community members were given tools and strategies to help them better self-manage their condition. The topics covered included making better food choices, learning exercises and stretches to stay fit, and self-monitoring blood glucose. Students from other colleges at ISU, including those studying dietetics and exercise science, were involved in the project.
Gower says, “Like with several other projects, it was a very important point that a multidisciplinary approach was taken to include other health care students and to give us more experience working as a team.”
Gower took the lead on another interdisciplinary project by obtaining $9900 in grant money from the ISU Division of Health Sciences for “Diabetes Rural Outreach,” a program designed to provide support for the underserved population of rural Idaho. Together with other students from the ISU Division of Health Sciences, Gower worked in 2 counties to provide diabetes and cholesterol screening, blood pressure and diabetic foot checks, diet and nutrition counseling, and immunizations.
In his work as a commissioned officer for the Indian Health Service through JRCOSTEP (Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program), Gower also gained experience meeting the needs of the Native American population of southeastern Idaho. In addition to providing medication counseling to patients and education to fellow health care workers, Gower created a manual for future externs to guide them in fulfilling their duties.
When reflecting on his extracurricular work, Gower says, “I have always at least encouraged fellow colleagues to seek to expand pharmacy’s reach and look for ways to improve our profession by doing more than the basics.”
Gower, who just graduated from the ISU College of Pharmacy in May 2012, certainly seems ready to make a big impact in whatever practice setting he chooses.
Q Was there a moment when you knew pharmacy was right for you?
A. I admit that I developed some hesitation about whether I was making the right choice right about the time of pharmacy school interviews. But during my P2 year, I did some IPPE hours at the VA and loved the role that pharmacists played in that system—the hands-on aspect and critical thinking really impressed me.
Q What has been your most rewarding extracurricular activity, and why?
A. I may have enjoyed The Initiative: Taking Control of Diabetes the most. It was great to get some feedback from the participants about how it helped them. One man, for example, said that the exercises he was taught helped relieve some troublesome leg pain he had been experiencing. Another reported that, based on the education regarding generic prescriptions he received, he talked to his doctor about changing to generics and now saves more than $100 a month on his medications. Hearing these sorts of things was really rewarding, and I enjoyed the chance to follow these participants along through the program.
Q What do you think is the most important issue in the field of pharmacy today?
A. I am certainly concerned about many things, from drug shortages to the surplus of pharmacy schools, but I am always a proponent for prevention. One thing that really needs to get the attention of the people is not getting diabetes, obesity, communicable diseases, etc, in the first place. I suppose that is an issue for health care in general, but a lot of what I have tried to do in my extracurricular work involves prevention. We as pharmacists and student pharmacists can play just as important a role as other health care providers.
About the School
The Idaho State University College of Pharmacy offers both traditional and nontraditional PharmD programs. It consists of 2 departments: Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacy Practice and Administrative Sciences. For more information, visit www.pharmacy.isu.edu/live.
The RESPy (Respect, Excellence, and Service in Pharmacy) Award is presented to the student who has made a difference in his or her community by demonstrating excellence in pharmaceutical care. For more information, please visit www.PharmacyTimes.com