Although John “Jake” Galdo’s grandmother passed away 5 years ago, he is making sure that her legacy lives on. Formerly a nurse, Galdo’s grandma undoubtedly gave a lot to her patients, but it was the care that a pharmacist showed to her that left a lasting impression on her grandson. “My grandmother had a long battle with breast cancer, and it was the pharmacist who was always there to help her,” said Galdo. “I want to be able to give someone else’s grandma what the pharmacist gave mine.”
Perhaps it is the passion Galdo puts behind “paying it forward” through pharmacy that made him the Walmart/ Pharmacy Times RESPy Award winner for September. The third-year student at the University of Georgia (UGA) College of Pharmacy is not just completing coursework to fulfill his mission—numerous volunteer activities give him a chance to help others before officially donning the white coat. “While some students prefer only to study in school, I feel that you cannot learn everything about medicine from a book; you have to live it,” explained Galdo. “So I combine a practical education by working and volunteering where I apply what I learned in class—I get to study while I work.”
The most rewarding of Galdo’s efforts has been volunteering at the Mercy Health Center—a nonprofit health clinic for indigent patients—in Athens, Georgia, said Galdo. There, he was at the helm of the clinic’s prescription assistance program, in addition to providing diabetes education classes. Galdo also recruited a large number of student volunteers for the center during his time there.
Although he moved away and was unable to continue working at the Mercy Health Center, Galdo said he still hears from the patients with whom he worked. “For me, the most rewarding aspect really was the times I sat down with a patient and just talked to them about their concerns,” Galdo said. He found the experience so gratifying that he plans to have a practice site for the indigent while working as a college professor of pharmacy after obtaining a master’s degree.
Galdo’s dedication to the field has not gone unnoticed. “Jake has been a true leader in our college’s efforts to positively impact the health of people in our community,” said Alan Wolfgang, UGA Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. This past spring saw Galdo as the primary organizer of PharmFest, a health fair that provides outreach education to the local community. According to Wolfgang, Galdo’s fluency in Spanish made him a particular asset to the event, as it is targeted toward the Hispanic population.
Most recently, Galdo is serving on a pharmacy team providing services to migrant farm workers in southern Georgia. Despite prior access to a health clinic, these workers have been deeply in need of pharmaceutical care, but did not have it until this summer. “These volunteers will be advancing the pharmacist’s role in interdisciplinary health care teams,” said Wolfgang.
In his hopes to advance pharmacy in the public health arena, Galdo works hard to show the physicians with whom he works that collaboration is not only possible, but necessary. With patients, he makes it clear to them that pharmacists are approachable and helpful when questions arise. “My contribution so far has been showing patients and providers what pharmacists can offer,” said Galdo. “I feel that we have a great opportunity to aid our health care crisis—we just need to let the country know that we can.”
About the School
The University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, based in Athens, Georgia, was founded in 1903 and became home to one of the first 4-year required pharmacy degrees in the nation, back in 1926. Now, the school offers the Doctor of Pharmacy professional degree and admits about 125 students each year. The 4-year program combines classroom, laboratory, and experiential training in a curriculum focused on human physiology and disease states. Graduate studies at the college are offered in the areas of pharmacotherapeutic research, clinical work, and administration.
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.