In addition to her studies at South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Erin Elizabeth Boles has given over 900 hours to her community.
Erin Elizabeth Boles
South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP) student Erin Elizabeth Boles, the January Walmart/ Pharmacy Times
RESPy Award winner, has logged over 900 hours of community service, spending much of her time helping patients with diabetes, underprivileged populations, and children. A member of the class of 2011, Boles is an inspiration to her fellow students and a prime example of the ways that pharmacy expertise can change people’s lives.
Boles was nominated for the RESPy Award by Cathy Worrall, PharmD, BCPS, BCNSP, FAPhA, assistant dean for Student Affairs and Experiential Education and professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences at SCCP. Dr. Worrall explains that in addition to Boles’ involvement in pharmacy organizations, she gives freely of her time in ways that have both benefited members of the community and enriched the educational experiences of her classmates.
“[Boles] was the first pharmacy student to serve on the Crisis Ministries Wednesday Night Clinic Board,” Dr. Worrell says. “She was instrumental in increasing the number of pharmacy student volunteers at the clinic and in obtaining more hands-on experience for pharmacy student volunteers. Pharmacy students are now an integral part of the interdisciplinary team at the clinic, participating in patient interviews, treatment plan development, and counseling.”
In addition to her work at the Crisis Ministries Clinic, Boles has been actively involved in many special projects, preparing and serving dinners to out-of-town cancer patients and their families, serving as a counselor at a camp for children with diabetes, and filling prescriptions and counseling patients at the Harvest Free Medical Clinic.
It is no wonder that the RESPy Award is not Boles’ first recognition of her accomplishments. She was inducted into the Phi Lambda Sigma society in her second year and was named the Medical University of South Carolina Gives Back Volunteer of the Year Award in 2010.
In her interview with Pharmacy Times
, Boles made it clear that she learns to become a better pharmacist by listening to her patients and their needs and that she plans to continue her commitment to community service even after she earns her PharmD.
Was there a specific moment when you knew pharmacy was right for you?
During my first semester, I had 2 professors who practiced in the field of pediatrics. Up until that point, I didn’t realize all the options available to pharmacists. After one of their classes, I asked if I could go with them one day and see what their jobs entail. They took me to the pediatric intensive care unit and the neonatal intensive care unit. I was amazed at the pharmacist’s role in the hospital. After leaving school that day, I realized that pediatric pharmacy is what I was meant to do as a career.
What do you think is the most important issue in the field of pharmacy today?
The cost of health care. I see on a daily basis people having to choose between the cost of their medications and buying food for their family. While working at Hollings Cancer Center, I saw many families struggle to pay their medical bills. There were many times when an insurance company would deny coverage for a medication. This left the patient with 2 options: pay full price for the expensive medication or not get the medication at all. It was heartbreaking to see cancer patients have to make that choice. Because of this, I would work very closely with the social worker to provide families with either free medication programs or enroll them in a program to help pay for the medication costs.
What are your long-term professional goals?
After graduation I want to complete a residency and specialize in the field of pediatrics. I really enjoy the topics of nutrition and pediatric oncology, so I am pursuing a residency that will be able to provide both areas of practice. In the long run, I would like to practice as a clinic specialist in a children’s hospital and also be a faculty member at a college of pharmacy. I also plan to stay very involved in community service, as it is something that is very important to me.
Is there a specific patient or person you’ve worked with who taught you something that will help you be a better pharmacist?
I believe every patient and person I have worked with has taught me something different about being a better pharmacist. Even the difficult patients will teach you to become a more patient pharmacist. I believe you can use every encounter to learn how to be a better pharmacist. PT
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.
About the school
The South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP) was formed in 2004 through the integration of the Colleges of Pharmacy at the University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston. The first class of students for the SCCP graduated in August 2010. The SCCP offers a 4-year PharmD as well as graduate programs on both the USC and MUSC campuses.