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Michigan OPEN

Connecting Pharmacy Students and Communities for Safe Medication Storage and Disposal

Oct 6, 2023

At the beginning of each school year, the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy sends students, old and new, to community pharmacies to share safe storage and disposal materials. In their second year back since the start of COVID-19, the College of Pharmacy partnered with OPEN to help hand out more materials and reach more members of our community.

This year, the Pharmacy Community Connect Day took place over two days on August 22nd and August 24th. During this event, first year students are paired with upperclassmen to not help them during this event, but to help them meet their first peer contact within the college. “This is an opportunity to meet the first-year students and get them accumulated to the college, as well as interacting with the community as a student pharmacist,” said third year student Salena Kasha. “It’s wonderful we have first year students go and interact with patients and community members because it says we trust you to represent this school.”

Kasha, who participated in this event for the second time this year, recognizes the importance of giving back to the community and community outreach. “Pharmacy isn’t just about being in a clinic and taking care of patients in that way. It’s also about having the ability to advocate and educate in the community. Having community members see that we care and there are resources available and having the opportunity to talk to us; it helps them feel seen and comfortable. It builds trust within the community. It helps them not feel afraid to ask for help.”

Events like this where students get a chance to communicate with community members and see the impact this work has on the greater community is extremely important. Community outreach is one of the most important aspects of an education with the College of Pharmacy, and events like these only further prove that.

“I hope we do more of these events and target an even larger demographic. Let’s work with adolescents and older generations, people who may not be going to the pharmacy themselves. Everybody needs this information and needs these resources. Let’s make sure everyone has access to this,” Kasha added.

The Pharmacy Community Connect Day isn’t only important for the community, but it is just as crucial for the future providers as well. “It humanizes the providers for the community and also humanizes the patients for us,” said Kasha. This type of event allows the students to truly understand the importance of giving back and picking up communicative skills that will benefit them in their futures as providers. On the flip side, community members will get a chance to feel more comfortable with new ideas and get the chance to ask questions so they can make informed decisions going forward.

When asked about why these events are important, Kasha stated “It’s really important for doctors to tell patients how to safely and responsibly store and dispose of these medications. It’s our responsibility as healthcare workers to make sure patients have all of the information they need to be successful in their recovery journey.”

The College of Pharmacy and OPEN teams were ecstatic with the teamwork and outcome of this year’s event. Everybody involved with the preparation of this event is excited to welcome the first-year students to the University of Michigan and look forward to seeing them grow through their participation in events like this in years to come.

Learn more about Safe Storage and Disposal here.