Pharmacy Students Provide Care in Native American Communities

March 4, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Beyond working in traditional retail, community, and health-system settings, pharmacy students have a lot of options. Two Roosevelt University pharmacy students are proof of that.

Beyond working in traditional retail, community, and health-system settings, pharmacy students have a lot of options. Two Roosevelt University pharmacy students are proof of that.

Alex Mersch, of Illinois, and Steven Hung Thai, of California, recently took their pharmacy skills to Native American communities to help tribe members cope with illnesses such as diabetes, depression, and heart disease. They both lived and worked among the Native American tribes during the 2014-2015 school year, according to eNews Park Forest.

Mersch spent part of his winter break at a health clinic on the East Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, while Thai worked at a federal clinic for members of the Lakota/Sioux Indian population in South Dakota.

The reservation where Thai worked was located in 1 of the poorest rural areas in the nation, according to eNews Park Forest. After his time in South Dakota, Thai decided to do another 8-week ambulatory care rotation in the winter at the Indian Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

“When you think about pharmacy, too often Walgreens or CVS are the first places that come to mind,” Thai told eNews Park Forest. “I wanted to see what pharmacy was like in a different setting, and these experiences certainly opened my eyes.”

Some of the counseling in which Thai and Mersch were involved included instructing patients on how to take their medications and improve their diets.

“Stepping outside my comfort zone was the best thing I could have done,” Mersch told eNews Park Forest. “It’s given me a lot of confidence as I consider my career options.”