Bringing Health Care to Those in Need

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

For Noelle Rizzo, this month's Pharmacy Times/Wal-Mart RESPy Award winner, a career in pharmacy is all about helping others.

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

Noelle Rizzo

For Noelle Rizzo, a third-year pharmacy student at theUniversity of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, a career inpharmacy is all about helping others—even those withlimited resources.

"She is a wonderful example of the caring attitudes andbehaviors we wish all of our students and faculty possessedand displayed," said William Lubawy, PhD, associate dean foracademic affairs at the University of Kentucky College ofPharmacy. "She is the poster child for volunteer and communityservice work."

In the past 2 years, Rizzo has participated in 4 medical missiontrips to South America along with physicians, nurses, dentists,and pharmacists. On her first mission with Latin AmericanMissions, she spent 1 week in a medical clinic in El Salvadorhelping to dispense medication and translated and counseledpatients. Her second mission was a 2-week program in Lima,Peru, in which she helped establish a formulary and helped setup a clinic pharmacy. Her fluency in Spanish was invaluable—she was able to help develop additional labeling information inSpanish so that patients could read information about theirmedications. She also was part of a team that met with Peru'sminister of health.

About the School

One of the top 10 pharmacy schools in the United States, theUniversity of Kentucky College of Pharmacy is a leader in pharmacyeducation, clinical care, and pharmaceutical research.

Established in 1870, the college officially became a division of theUniversity of Kentucky in 1947. The college added the doctor ofpharmacy and doctor of philosophy degree programs, pharmacypractice residencies, clinical service programs, and a program forpostdoctoral scholars under the leadership of Dean Joseph V.Swintosky. The Center of Pharmaceutical Science and Technologyalso was added. Under the current leadership of Dean Kenneth B.Roberts, the college has more than tripled its endowment funding,increased research income, and doubled its National Institutes ofHealth funding.

The college's research discoveries and innovations have earnedinternational recognition. Faculty, graduate students, postdoctoralscholars, and staff conduct front-line research in areas of pharmacy.Drug discovery, drug development, therapeutics, and pharmaceuticalpolicy are the 4 major areas of research at the college.

She returned to El Salvador for her third mission, where shehelped inventory medicines in the clinic, write standardizeddosing regimens for all medications and standardize labels, andpackage medications for dispensing. On her last mission in Ica,Peru, she spent 2 weeks helping to dispense medication, actingas a translator, and helping to triage patients. She also workedwith physicians and dentists to determine how the formulariesshould be changed.

Rizzo said that her work in South America is the most rewardingwork she has done. "We have a significant impact on thepeople we see," said Rizzo. "People walk for hours to come tous. The weekly salary there is about$25, and a visit to the doctor rangesfrom $25 to $40, so very few peoplego to the doctor. The services weprovide are really needed." Thissummer, Rizzo will spend 3 monthsin Latin America on various missionsto Peru, Nicaragua, Panama, andEcuador.

On the professional/public healthfront, Rizzo also is very active. As theAmerican Pharmacists Association'sAcademy of Student Pharmacists Region 4 Member at Large,she led a group of over 40 pharmacy students in a "Tobacco-Free Kids" program at 5 YMCA after-school programs thatreached about 280 children with tobacco prevention education."The YMCA was so impressed, they want her to repeat the programin 2008 and expand it to more schools," said Dr. Lubawy.

"This year, we will go to 11 schools," she said. "Our volunteersgrew from 40 last year to 100 this year, so our target is to reachover 600 kids."

The Wal-Mart/Pharmacy Times RESPy AWARD(Respect, Excellence, and Service inPharmacy) is presented to thestudent who has made a differencein his or her community by demonstratingexcellence in pharmaceuticalcare. For more information, pleasevisit www.pharmacytimes.com/RESPy.

Rizzo currently serves on the university's World AIDS DayPlanning Committee, works at a Diabetes Family Fun Day, andvolunteers at local flu immunization. As an intern at a local pharmacy,Rizzo translates for Spanish-speaking patients who cannotspeak English.

After graduating, Rizzo plans to pursue a pharmacy career inpublic health. "I really see myself in a public health role, particularlyhelping indigent populations," she said. "I came to pharmacywith the goal of helping people, and for me, it is moreabout that than about the salary. I would like to see medicalmissions expanded to other parts of South America that are notcurrently served."