UW News

October 8, 2009

Students celebrate American Pharmacists Month with ad campaign

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Soon, UW pharmacy students will take their message of medication awareness to the streets.


Starting next week, 90 King County Metro buses will carry internal advertisements that contain the message: “Know your MEDICINE. Know your PHARMACIST.” The ads also assert that pharmacists are a great source of health information and encourage people to get to know their pharmacists and medicines better.


These full-color, 11×17-inch interior ads will be posted inside Seattle-area buses for four weeks as part of the UW pharmacy students’ campaign to celebrate American Pharmacists Month. The monthlong national observance seeks to help the public understand the important contributions that pharmacists make to health care. 


According to the American Pharmacists Association, this year’s theme also aims to educate the public and policymakers about how improved medication awareness can save the health care system money. Avoidable medication-related health problems cost the system more than $177 billion annually in the United States, according to the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. Pharmacists play a key role in helping prevent these sometimes deadly problems.


The bus campaign will allow the students to highlight the “know your medicine” message to a broad and captive audience. To pay for the ads, the students used money from the United Professional Pharmacy Organizations of Washington (UPPOW), a student-run association, and a School of Pharmacy community-outreach resource center called Bridges to Health. The Washington State Pharmacy Association also contributed money, and the company that created the ads, Titan, provided half of the ads at no cost to support the students’ outreach efforts.


In addition to the bus campaign, pharmacy students have created American Pharmacists Month t-shirts for pharmacy students, staff and faculty to wear on the same days throughout the month. They are also organizing a health fair at Husky Stadium on Homecoming on Oct. 24. And they are finalizing a proclamation — emphasizing the important role pharmacists play in providing immunizations — to send to Gov. Christine Gregoire’s office to propose that she sign.


“We are hoping this education campaign will start to change the public perception of pharmacists,” said Karen Craddick, second-year pharmacy student and a junior liaison to the Washington State Pharmacy Association. “Pharmacists play an integral role in patient care and have a wealth of information to share with patients and other health care providers. But I believe they are underutilized.”


The students want to demonstrate their wealth of knowledge and insight at the Homecoming Health Fair. Members of UPPOW and the UW student chapter of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy will staff the event that will take place at the North Pavilion of the stadium prior to the game. They plan to conduct blood pressure screenings, provide education about diabetes and heartburn, and answer health questions, among other things. 


They organized this event in conjunction with a Husky football game in order to reach a large number of people. They also want to engage with a community that’s especially close to home.


“By providing services and education at this health fair, we hope to show the strength of our program and the capabilities of our profession to the UW community,” said Sara McElroy, second-year student and president-elect of UPPOW. 


Providing public health services and showing off the strengths of the pharmacy profession is what American Pharmacists Month is about. And UW pharmacy students are committed to this kind of outreach and ambassadorship all year long.