When Language Meets Medicine

Of all my wonderful experiences in pharmacy school thus far, I would have to say that my involvement with the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) OTC Medicine Safety committee has been my favorite. OTC Medicine Safety is a national campaign that aims to educate 5th and 6th graders, as well as their parents and caregivers, about the safe use and storage of over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

As an active member of the University of Maryland APhA-ASP chapter’s OTC Medicine Safety committee (whew, what a mouthful!), and now currently the committee co-chair at Shady Grove, I’ve seen the positive impact that our committee has had on the community over these past two years. We’ve taken our outreaches to a middle school, a health fair, two libraries, a community rec center, a flu clinic, a health and fitness expo, and most recently… a Sunday school!

The Shady Grove committee chair and I are always exploring news ways to gain access to our target population. And sometimes, that means we have to get creative. The aforementioned Sunday school is a program I actually attended as a kid. A large part of it is dedicated to teaching students how to speak, read, and write in Vietnamese. Remembering the large number of students from all grade levels that this program saw each week, I knew that this Sunday school was the perfect place to take our campaign next.

But how were we going to convince the teachers to let a bunch of pharmacy students come in and educate on medication safety, a topic that while undoubtedly important, is completely irrelevant to the curriculum? Well, we decided to pitch the outreach as a bilingual lesson. Our focus would still be on teaching students the difference between prescription and OTC medications, how to read and understand a drug facts label, how to safely store and dispose of medications, etc. But we would also incorporate as much Vietnamese into the lesson as possible.

Taking at least a month to have it approved by the Sunday school, the idea was by no means a shoo-in. Even then, we were only allowed thirty minutes to conduct our lesson to forty students! But thanks to the hard work put in by several first year committee members, and the Shady Grove committee chair, the event was a huge success. We began with a brief presentation given in both Vietnamese and English, leaving plenty of time at the end for an exciting game of Jeopardy. While answers given by the students could be in English, points were doubled if they could be given in Vietnamese. The kids had such a fun time (proof in the pictures below)!

This post could not have been written at a better time because just last night, it was announced during the APhA-ASP Annual Meeting in San Francisco that our school’s chapter was first runner-up for the 2015-16 OTC Medicine Safety Award! This committee has been near and dear to my heart since day one, and I cannot wait to see what more our chapter can do. #togetherwecan

About quynh14

Hey there, I’m Quynh! I’m a second year student at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy at USG. I love sunshine, laughter, country music, and pad thai. I promise I’m nice, so please come say hello if you see me around campus :)
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