Helping Patients at Home and Abroad

Pharmacy Times, November 2015 Cough, Cold, & Flu, Volume 81, Issue 11

Salin Nhean, a pharmacy student at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, strives to provide quality care to patients across the globe.

Salin Nhean, a pharmacy student at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, strives to provide quality care to patients across the globe. The 2016 PharmD candidate considers her most rewarding school experience to be her involvement with Global Medical Brigades (GMB), a student-led nonprofit organization that provides sustainable health care relief to underserved communities overseas. On 2 separate occasions, Nhean led a team of her peers to Honduras, where the students worked with local health workers to provide medical and dental services to 1459 patients across both trips. According to Nhean, this experience reinforced the importance of collaboration in providing patient care.

“This trip was meaningful in that it created a mutually beneficial relationship between student volunteers and the local community,” Nhean told Pharmacy Times in an exclusive interview. “We were working together toward a common goal, collaborating to help those in need while learning about each other’s culture.”

Following her first year of pharmacy school, Nhean also traveled to Ghana to lend her knowledge and talents to the Ghana Health and Education Initiative. There, she worked with a team of other international volunteers to support the organization’s malaria prevention initiative in a local village.

Nhean has always made time to help those in her community as well. In her first semester at pharmacy school, she joined the Student Section of the Maryland Public Health Association (SMdPHA), through which she helped to organize community outreach events. Her involvement in SMdPHA, she explained, sparked a greater interest in public health—one that inspired her to take on a leadership role in the organization. As the co-chair of her school’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Committee, she coordinated events that promoted awareness and destigmatization of HIV/ AIDS in the Baltimore area and provided services such as HIV education, testing, and linkage to care.

Reflecting on her volunteer work, Nhean recognized the troubling impact that economic factors can have on patient health and urged pharmacists to work toward improving patient access to health care in their communities and around the world.

“My experiences illustrate that poverty anywhere in the world, whether in Honduras or in my local community, is one of the main barriers to access to care,” Nhean said. “We, as health care professionals, have a critical role in addressing this barrier locally and globally.”

Q: Why did you decide to become a pharmacist?A: I am originally from Cambodia but moved to the United States at age 14. In Cambodia, I witnessed firsthand the pernicious and devastating effects of the lack of access to health care and the poor quality of available care on a vulnerable and underserved population. I pursued a career in pharmacy to learn more about the proper use of medications and health-related issues so that I could help these people in any way possible.

Q: What do you think is the most important issue in pharmacy today? Why?A: One of the important issues is the continuous need to expand pharmacists’ roles in providing patient-centered services in hospitals and health systems. It is essential to integrate pharmacists as effective members of the patient care team in order to advance the practice of pharmacy.

Q: What do you think is the most important quality for a pharmacist to possess?A: Pharmacists need to have knowledge, attention to detail, initiative, empathy, and effective communication skills, but I think a lifelong love of learning is the most important quality. Pharmacy has changed profoundly and will continue to advance. To provide safe and quality patient-focused care with confidence, it is important to keep up with evidence-based medicine and be able to effectively apply it in practice.

About the School

One of the oldest pharmacy schools in the United States, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy offers a traditional PharmD program, as well as several dual degree programs that allow students to also pursue a JD, MBA, MPH, or PhD. The school also provides students with a number of research, practice, and philanthropy opportunities.

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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.