Community Commitment Earns RESPy Award

FEBRUARY 01, 2007
Barbara Sax

Community pharmacy and community service have a very close association for Laura Marran. The winner of February's Pharmacy Times/Wal-Mart RESPy Award, Marran has worked in a community pharmacy since she was 16.

Now in her third year of pharmacy school, Marran has "set a pattern of effort and contribution," according to Theodore Tong, PharmD, associate dean of academic and student affairs and professor of pharmacy, toxicology, and public health at the University of Arizona (UA) College of Pharmacy. "Laura came to pharmacy school after working in a community pharmacy setting, so she saw pharmacists contributing to community service and had already adopted that value system," said Dr. Tong. "She quickly saw opportunities and addressed them."

Her experience working in a community setting has helped her identify needs. In early 2006, with the help of her advisor, Kevin Boesen, PharmD, Marran developed a program that trained pharmacy students to explain the complexities of Medicare Part D to seniors. Many of the patients had low incomes, limited literacy, and poor language proficiency and were eligible for benefits under Medicare and ACCESS— Arizona's program of subsidized assistance for health care services to qualified state residents.

Students gave a presentation to seniors and followed with a question-and-answer session. "I'm most proud of being able to sit one-on-one with seniors to access the Medicare D Web site, plug in their medications, and help them make the selection that was best for them," said Marran. "Having a direct impact on the quality of their health care was very fulfilling."

Marran's outreach efforts have also included children. As president-elect and president of the UA's student chapter of the National Community Pharmacists Association, Marran created a chapter membership outreach program to increase participation of fellow students in the organization's service and social activities.

Part of that effort was creating volunteer service opportunities with the local Ronald McDonald House."I'm proud of our ‘Katy's Kids' program," she said of the educational program that teaches kindergarten children about the proper uses of medication and the role of the pharmacist. She also taught kindergarteners about the proper care and management of asthma through the American Lung Association's Open Airways curriculum. "We teach them how to use an inhaler and how to manage their asthma," said Marran.

Marran believes that pharmacy's role in health care will continue to expand as long as "pharmacists show how useful and accessible they are."

"Every day I go to work, patients are asking more and more questions about their medication, she said. " It makes me very excited to get out there and practice."

About the College

The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

The UA College of Pharmacy was founded in 1947 and remains the only college of pharmacy at an Arizona public university. Regarded as one of the premier colleges of pharmacy in the nation, was ranked fourth in America's Best Graduate Schools last year by US News & World Report. The College of Pharmacy is home to the first poison control center in Arizona and is a leader in toxicology research and training. Its Center for Health Outcomes and PharmacoEconomics Research is one of the first centers in the world devoted to the study of pharmacoeconomics.

The college offers a professional PharmD program, as well as a master of science and PhD program in the pharmaceutical sciences and in pharmacology and toxicology to students who have completed a minimum of 67 college credits of specific pre-pharmacy courses. Completion of PharmD course work requires 4 years and includes clinical rotations in hospitals, nursing homes, and community pharmacies.

The Wal-Mart/Pharmacy Times RESPy AWARD (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.

Ms. Sax is a freelance writer based in Chevy Chase, Md.