Transcending Barriers Through Patient Care

Pharmacy TimesFebruary 2015 Autoimmune Disorders
Volume 81
Issue 2

As a pharmacy student at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy, Kalyann Kauv has demonstrated a passion for serving patients across cultural and social boundaries.

As a pharmacy student at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Pharmacy, Kalyann Kauv has demonstrated a passion for serving patients across cultural and social boundaries.

During her time at pharmacy school, the 2017 PharmD candidate has immersed herself in community service activities that have taken her well beyond her immediate community by participating in health fairs, traveling on medical outreach trips, and volunteering at the Healing Eagle Clinic at the Mattaponi Indian Reservation.

“I am particularly interested in experiences that impact and serve the underrepresented and underserved communities,” said Kauv to Pharmacy Times.

Kauv’s most rewarding and enlightening experience was going on an outreach trip to the Dominican Republic, where she helped to provide free health care to more than 1000 patients. While there, she collected data on hypertension and documented issues that patients had experienced in obtaining medication.

“Hypertension was increasing within our patient population, yet there were no accessible ways for these people to get the necessary medications, which highlighted that not only are medical mission trips important, but also that permanent places within the community create more access to care,” said Kauv. “Going through the research process of developing the right question and seeing the results was extremely satisfying, as it felt like I helped contribute to something bigger than myself.”

Kauv currently serves as presidentelect of the VCU Chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, a role that has enabled her to continue reaching out to patients across different cultures. Recently, she coordinated an event at the Healing Eagle Clinic in which prominent tribe members met with students to discuss their culture, their views on Western medicine, and ways in which future pharmacists can better communicate with Native Americans about health and medicine.

“It’s very moving and powerful when we can engage in this type of candid dialogue and learn about, appreciate, and understand a different walk of life,” said Kauv. “It has been a great experience to establish relationships with exceptional people!”

Q: What do you think is the most important quality for a pharmacist to possess?A: I admire pharmacists who go above and beyond. They find opportunities by being involved not only in their career but also in professional organizations, and by mentoring, teaching, volunteering in their community, or being involved in activities that break the stereotypical “pharmacy mold.” It motivates me to continually seek opportunities in which I can push myself to grow professionally and think innovatively.

Q: Has a specific patient or colleague taught you something that will help you be a better pharmacist?A: There are 2 specific patients— who also happen to be my parents! Although I don’t treat them professionally, it’s always fun to practice my budding counseling skills on them. They are my biggest heroes. They are both genocide survivors and immigrants from Cambodia. My eagerness to explore the vast opportunities in pharmacy have stemmed from knowing what sacrifices they have made in order for me to have this chance. I have learned much about hard work, gratitude, willpower, and many more intangible lessons through them that I will always carry with me as I work toward being a pharmacist.

Q: What do you think is the most important issue in pharmacy today? Why?A: I believe as future health care professionals, we will be exposed to many walks of life, cultures, and beliefs. We need to approach these future relationships using pharmacy as the avenue by which we can break down barriers to form positive relationships.

I feel like this is a great challenge because we see a lot of conflict and hatred in the news and in the world. Our friends, family, and even we may have had negative experiences with health care in the past or believe that it is solely run on lab values and numbers. However, I have been fortunate to meet pharmacists who strive to create a narrative with their patients and emphasize the importance of creating a bond. We are in a great profession in which we can impact relationships in a positive way and overcome challenges one person at a time.

About the School

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy has a traditional PharmD program, as well as several joint programs that allow pharmacy students to also obtain a PhD, MBA, MPH, or Certificate of Aging Studies. In addition to offering residencies in community pharmacy practice and ambulatory care, the school has established the country’s first pharmacy Healthcare Policy Fellow Program in collaboration with the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

About RESPy - Brought to you by Walmart and Pharmacy Times

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

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