Approximately 280 4th graders from local elementary schools in Aurora visited campus over winter break to participate in the award-winning and ever-popular event called “Pharmacist for a Day.” A spin-off of the Service Learning Program, this event is a way to engage youth in health education while providing pharmacy students the opportunity to develop their skills as healthcare professionals. Translating pharmacy education into something that is both accessible and meaningful to diverse groups of children proves to be a valuable exercise in effective communication.
“This program is a great opportunity to introduce kids and elementary school teachers alike to the field of pharmacy in a fun, safe environment,” said Patricia Meyer, IPPE Student Coordinator. “The kids really enjoy digging in to the science activities and while we don’t know if this translates into them pursuing pharmacy as a career, it’s always good to increase awareness of pharmacy as a health profession.”
Pharmacy student volunteers facilitate three main activities throughout the day, and each sparks fascination and joy among the kids’ inquisitive minds. One part of the day involves a presentation and activity about things like measurements and compounding, while another part of the day focuses on counting and differentiating between candy and medicine. The day ends with the highly anticipated white coat ceremony where the fourth graders are recognized by name, don white coats, sign a class poster, and take a group photo.
Zaynib Hassan, a P2 pharmacy student, has volunteered for this event two years in a row. “My favorite moments are when I get to see the students’ excitement about what they are actually capable of doing. Whether it’s practicing how to compound lotion, memorizing the number of the Poison Control Center, or learning how they can better keep their younger siblings safe, the students walk away empowered and interested in the possibility of growing up to be a pharmacist!” Hassan said.
Meena Mattamana, a P2 pharmacy student agrees. “I participated last year and it was such a fun experience to watch children get so excited about compounding,” said Mattamana. “Seeing pharmacy through their eyes really made me take a step back and have a new appreciation for the field. I feel so lucky to be a part of a university that allows children to have these unique experiences to allow their young minds to grow and give them the opportunity to know that they can do anything they put their minds to.”