McCurdy Advances the Profession of Pharmacy Through Strong Community Spirit

NOVEMBER 01, 2008
Alicia Rybovic
Associate Editor, Pharmacy Times

This month's RESPy Award winner, Megan McCurdy from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), School of Pharmacy, is truly a champion of community volunteerism and furthering the profession of pharmacy. Since she started at UCSF in September 2006, she has been a very active participant in school, campus, and community service activities. Through these activities, she has "repeatedly demonstrated her dedication, drive, caring, and leadership skills," said Donald T. Kishi, PharmD, health sciences clinical professor of pharmacy at UCSF School of Pharmacy.

Megan McCurdy

McCurdy discovered her desire to pursue a career in pharmacy during her undergraduate study at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She could not get enough of the science curricula at UCSD, especially chemistry, but she knew that she also wanted to steer her career toward a field that would allow her to interact with people and promote health. She soon realized that pharmacy was the perfect way to meld her interests while volunteering at the hospital pharmacy at UCSD Medical Center. "It is the side of chemistry that has an incredible power to heal," said McCurdy. "Pharmacists are given the ability to translate chemistry into health and wellbeing. This knowledge enables us to do a lot of good for our patients and our communities."

About the College

The School of Pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is dedicated to improving human health worldwide and advancing scientific discovery. The school conducts pharmaceutical research; provides world-class education; develops and delivers outstanding and innovative pharmaceutical care; and serves the community by sharing expertise with the public, industry leaders, and policy makers.

UCSF was founded in 1872 as the first pharmacy school in the West. Today, it is the top-ranked pharmacy school in the United States, as measured independently by academic quality and perception, funding, and publications, and offers 4 main degree programs: the PharmD; PharmD/MPH; PharmD/PhD; and the PhD. The UCSF School of Pharmacy also offers postdoctoral fellowships and residencies.

Upon entering pharmacy school, McCurdy quickly began her involvement in community service. Kishi described her leadership role in the UCSF San Francisco Hepatitis B Collaborative—a nationally recognized, student-run interprofessional program that collaborates with the San Francisco Public Health Department to provide education, screening, and immunization to underserved communities in San Francisco. In this role, she served as the undergraduate coordinator and liaison, which included organizing health fairs and providing hepatitis B screening and education at these events.

In her first year at UCSF, McCurdy became an active member of the UCSF chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA). At the end of her first year, she was elected as president of the UCSF SNPhA chapter. In her role as president, she began 3 new community service projects within the chapter: Project Nutrition, Project Health Disparities/Stroke, and Project Outreach, otherwise known as the "Science Squad."

The Wal-Mart/Pharmacy Times RESPy Award

RESPy (Respect, Excellence, and Service in Pharmacy) is presented to the student who has made a difference in his or her community by demonstrating excellence in pharmaceutical care.

McCurdy was actually cofounder, codirector, and one of the tutors for the Project Outreach program. Through a faculty member, the group became aware of an educational need at Rosa Parks Elementary School, a local inner city elementary school, where not enough funding was received to afford a science curriculum. The squad collaborated with classroom teachers to form the Rosa Parks Science Discovery Project to develop age-appropriate science lessons for fifth-grade students. McCurdy helped develop 6 annual lessons, with the goal of getting the students really involved and excited about science through demonstrations and hands-on interaction. Her hope is that this program continues, with the long-term goal being to interest students in underserved communities in careers in the science and health professions.

In his nomination letter, Kishi summarized the breadth of McCurdy's enthusiasm and her consistent drive to exceed standards: "although Ms. McCurdy is just now entering her third professional year, she has already demonstrated the qualities of dedication, motivation, creativity, caring, leadership, and teaching skills in her service to her surrounding community (and particularly to underserved populations), to her fellow students, to the campus, and to the profession."

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