RESPy Winner Learns from the Homeless

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Lauren Hynicka, a fourth-year student at the University ofPittsburgh School of Pharmacy, learned a lot about people whenshe became involved in a homeless outreach initiative. In herfirst term at the school, Lauren volunteered to help a memberof the faculty—Teresa Donegan, PhD—in a program designed toassist the homeless in Pittsburgh. She recruited "5 of her peersto help collect warm clothing, blankets, and make food packets"for distribution on Pittsburgh's streets, said Patricia DowleyKroboth, PhD, dean, in her letter nominating Lauren for thePharmacy Times/Wal-Mart RESPy award.

"I like to bake," said Lauren, who made Christmas cookiesand, along with her fellow students, made peanut butter andjelly sandwiches and placed apples and oranges in the packetsfor the homeless. "We set up boxes at Whole Foods to collectclothing, sorted them out, and handed them out on Thursdaynights at Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh." Although shewas "freezing the whole time" in a bitter winter, "the experiencemade us appreciate what we had. We learned that homelessnessisn't always a choice. It could happen to anyone...wholoses a job or has a bad divorce," she said. "The experienceopened both sets of eyes.We learned from each other."

"She was so touched by the experience," that she asked Dr.Donegan if "it would be possible to develop [this initiative] into aservice/experiential-learning practicum" for the next term, saidDean Kroboth. She also pointed out that Lauren has an "impressivecapacity to maintain a high academic standing while balancingher leadership in school and professional organizations,as well as community service initiatives."

Lauren's participation lastsummer in an Association forPrevention Teaching and Research(APTR) program wasanother valuable experience.As a member of the PaulAmbrose Scholars program(named for a physician whodied on September 11, 2001,in the plane that crashed intothe Pentagon), she went toWashington, DC, for a weekendto hear experts speakabout subjects ranging fromsocial justice to preventivemedicine. The meeting"gave the students a chanceto talk to professionals"from manydisciplines.

Laurenwas given a"micro-grant"of $200 byAPTR to helpscreen patientsin afree clinic inPittsburgh forhigh cholesterol. The clinic was designed to help patients withacute problems, but "it has become a primary care clinic" andhelps patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol,said Lauren. She is in the process of designing a programto fight high cholesterol.

Currently doing a rotation at a pharmacy in Lancaster, Pa,where she fills prescriptions and counsels patients, she hopes todo a residency in general practice and to specialize in primarycare in the future. Her interest in primary care was triggered byan earlier rotation in Colorado in a physician's office where she"did consults and helped manage patients." As part of that rotationin the Kaiser Permanente health care system, she workedin diabetes and blood pressure clinics, as well as a couple ofSenior Health Fairs aimed at patients over age 70. She checkeddosages and patients' tolerance for medications. "In primarycare, we're able to order labs and change medications.We havean impact on patients' care."

As her rotations and volunteer work indicate, Lauren is "verymuch a self-starter," said Gary Stoehr, PharmD, associate dean,school of pharmacy. "She knows how to start something and finishit." In addition, "she's very positive and upbeat." Though hehas not seen her in a clinical setting, he said, "I imagine patientswould love her."

Ms. Rosendahl is a freelance writer based in Fort Lee, NJ.

About the College

University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy

Chartered in 1878, the School of Pharmacy—located in theOakland section of Pittsburgh—is the oldest of the University ofPittsburgh's Schools of the Health Sciences. The school's 4-yearPharmD program has a curriculum that "integrates science andpractice throughout the course of study; emphasizes team buildingthrough collaborative group work; leads the nation in its servicelearning program; and offers professionally and technologicallyadvanced methods of instruction delivery," according to its Web site.The School of Pharmacy also offers graduate training at the doctorallevel.