Area high school students spend five weeks in the shoes of health care professionals.
Over the past two weeks, we have had the opportunity to participate in the Pre-Collegiate Health Careers Program (PCHCP), held on the Anschutz Medical Campus. During the pharmacy portion of the program, we have seen the remarkable transformation and increased interest amongst these high schoolers in the profession of pharmacy. The students’ pharmacy education was tailored to highlight infectious disease as well as sterile and non-sterile compounding. They were exposed to a wide variety of pharmacy practice settings and gained experience making both oral solutions and hand sanitizers.
Juan, 17 remarks that his favorite part of the experience were “all of the hands on activities-making hand sanitizer and working in a lab! ” He also has gained a new appreciation for the pharmacy career field, saying “ I used to think that pharmacists were just in charge of giving out medications and I didn’t really understand all they did. But now I really see what all they can do.”
This is a remarkable and unique experience offered to motivated high school students, which exposes them to many careers in health-care, pharmacy included. Had this opportunity been available to us when we were mapping out our collegiate path, it certainly would have shed new light on all the exciting and rewarding practice settings available in pharmacy. When Priscilla, age 16, was asked if she learned any new things about the profession of pharmacy her response was enthusiastically, “ Yes! I definitely did! I didn’t know much about pharmacy before and this experience has opened my mind to this career option.”
A popular day in the pharmacy program was when guest lecturer and CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy assistant professor Dr. Sarah Scoular gave an overview of infectious disease and her experiences getting to where she is in her career. She engaged the students, who were especially interested in her remote travel experience, delivering medical care to underserved, third world regions. When asked what his favorite thing about the pharmacy program was, 17-year-old Michael remarked, “ I liked learning about all the work environments! Pharmacists can work any where they want and travel to different countries and places to practice.” Sarah, 17, responded “ I liked today’s activity (working up a patient case with an infection) because it was doing what a real pharmacist will do!”
Students ended their experience by presenting an infectious disease of their choice in a group format. It was clear from these presentations that the students have learned a lot over the past five weeks and have a profound interest in pharmacy and infectious disease.