Hundreds of fourth graders from Aurora Public Schools recently descended onto the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus to learn all about pharmacy.

From January 8-11, 320 students participated from Vaughn, Park Lane, Laredo, and Montview elementary schools. These schools are all within a few miles of the campus. CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy has been partnering with three of the schools for 16 years and Vaughn Elementary for three years. First and second-year student volunteers with the CU Pharmacy welcomed the elementary school students and taught them lessons on compounding and telling the difference between medicines and candy.

The goal of the event is to introduce the 9 and 10-year-olds to all the different things a pharmacist does, ” I hope they learn that we are there to help people,” explains first-year pharmacy student Renee Johnson, “and that we do more than just stand behind a counter and count pills.”

Fourth-grader Tasha Martinez understands that pharmacists help people and that’s why she says she would like to be one someday, “I would be a pharmacist because I can help different people, and I like helping people.”

The event also exposes these young students to a college campus, “I think it inspires them to think that they might be able to go to a college. and I think it encourages them in that way,” says Karen Zazzaretti, a fourth-grade teacher at Vaughn Elementary.

In their first-year, CU Pharmacy students also visit elementary schools in Aurora to teach lessons on topics like general health, hygiene, and nutrition. That, combined with the Pharmacist for a Day event, gives the pharmacy students a chance to work on communication, an important skill to master, “Definitely teaches us how to break down our language and what words we use, which helps, and we learned a lot of that last semester,” says Johnson.

At the end of the Pharmacist for a Day event, there was a graduation ceremony for the elementary students where they donned a white lab coat and posed with completion certificates for a class picture, “I’m really glad that they do this whole program, really glad, and I hope they keep doing it for a long time,” adds Zazzaretti.

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