Published on October 26, 2023 by Sofia Paglioni  
pharmacy student administering vaccine

For a week in October, Samford University McWhorter School of Pharmacy third-year students completed their PHAR 530 Focused Patient Care Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE). Students worked in a community pharmacy, administering vaccines, counseling patients, conducting medication therapy services and interacting with preceptors. As a result, 74 students administered a total of 6,014 vaccines to members of the Birmingham community. This total equates to, on average, 81 vaccinations administered per student. The vaccines included prevention for COVID-19, influenza, pneumococcal, zoster and other diseases.

To prepare for real-world environments, pharmacy students complete course work in a community pharmacy setting, with a concentrated public health focus, where they are responsible for vaccinations, conducting physical assessments, and other activities related to health care. The IPPE course in students’ third year is an opportunity for them to confidently apply the knowledge and skills they’ve already learned.

When students can apply their classroom knowledge to practical settings, they are able to enter the professional realm with courage and serve their patients with confidence.

One third-year student, Kenneth J. Machado Figueroa, reflected on his week, saying, “An inspiring moment during which I had the opportunity to witness the influence of pharmacists in public health occurred when an elderly gentleman, following his vaccination, approached me with a request for assistance in measuring his blood pressure, a task he was physically incapable of performing himself. This experience significantly shaped my perception of patient-centered care, highlighting the accessibility and vital role of pharmacists in addressing the needs of individuals.”

Being able to immerse themselves in community pharmacy allowed students to break down their own preconceived barriers about their own profession and highlighted just how vital pharmacists are to the health care team. This experience allowed students to see the impact that pharmacists have first-hand and leave a lasting impact of their own on communities they served.

Alexus Gaddis, third-year student, said, “This experience showcased the pharmacist's and my clinical skills and underscored the profound impact pharmacists have on public health and patient-centered care. We provided education, support, and personalized care, empowering the patient to take control of her health. This experience emphasized the importance of building strong patient-pharmacist relationships, active listening and tailored interventions to enhance well-being.”

Pharmacists play a critical role in the health care of their patients, and the relationships they form with their patients can be transformative for the patients’ lives.

McWhorter School of Pharmacy is distinctive in its mission to prepare students in a Christian environment to be exemplary pharmacists. This week highlighted the passion students hold for their local communities and the purpose of the pharmaceutical profession: to serve with Christ-like love.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.