“I could’ve spent the whole summer shadowing pharmacists here and there, but this put everything into one week and I was able to experience all of them,” said Daniel Wheeler of Maumelle. “The amount of work pharmacy students have is a lot, but I want to try.”
Wheeler was one of 23 students who from June 11-15 attended the UAMS College of Pharmacy’s 12th annual summer Pharmacy Camp. During the week, they were able to participate in a compounding laboratory making medications, try out procedures with animatronic patient manikins in the UAMS Center for Simulation Education and hear from a series of lecturers about the crucial roles pharmacists play in treating chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension.
One goal of pharmacy camp is to dispel the common misconception that profession of pharmacy is about performing routine tasks without any creativity or challenges.
“The students come to the camp with varying levels of interest and exposure to the profession,” said Alex Holladay, the college’s director of recruitment. “All of these students are interested in health care and pharmacy specifically, so we want them to have information on all the different options pharmacy has to offer from clinical pharmacy, to nuclear pharmacy, to pediatrics or transplant pharmacy.”
This year during a field trip to a nuclear pharmacy, the students also got to experience what it was like to operate the robotic arms used to formulate safely the radioactive materials used for radiation treatments.
Camp participants during the week stay in campus housing. More than a dozen faculty and staff of the college help with instruction, and another dozen or more pharmacy student volunteers serve as guides and mentors.
Along with field trips to local pharmacies, camp participants also learn about research, oncology pharmacy and chemotherapy, geriatrics and how to prepare for pharmacy school.
“Our goal is to encourage high school students, help them understand what it takes to get prepared, but mostly to be excited about the profession,” said Schwanda Flowers, Pharm.D., associate dean for student affairs of the College of Pharmacy. “The earlier we can engage them in the profession of pharmacy, the more likely they are to continue down that path.”
Flowers spoke to the students and many of their parents during a wrap-up session on the last day of camp. Presentations of two awards were made as well. Wheeler, soon to be a college freshman at the University of Central Arkansas, was the Male Camper of the Week. Hannah Pettit of Fordyce, soon to be a freshman at the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) was named the Female Camper of the Week.
Pre-pharmacy students at UAM have the opportunity to gain early admission to the UAMS College of Pharmacy under a new program to help recruit qualified students from rural and underserved areas in Arkansas. The Rural Health Early Admissions Program was created by the universities in 2017 through a memorandum of understanding.
“I’ve always been interested in the medical field, and I’ve taken several classes in high school,” said Pettit. “I went through a program in Fordyce and learned about pharmacy there. I discovered that’s what I want to do.”
She will interview for the early admissions program at UAM later in the summer.