OCT. 26, 2005 | As customers came through the North Little Rock Kroger checkout line they had the option of heading for the door or stopping at a table for a routine blood sugar check.
Many on that Oct. 13 morning chose the free checkup. Sitting opposite a pleasant
Meanwhile, at the Kroger pharmacy a few aisles away, people formed a long line for flu shots given by the store’s pharmacists. The pharmacy students provided support by screening patients and filling syringes with the vaccine.
For the students, the volunteer work is an opportunity to take their lab lessons to the real world, said Eddie Dunn, Pharm.D., associate professor in the
“Our main purpose is twofold; it is to educate the students — to let them put what they’ve learned at school into practice — and to educate the public about what pharmacists can do,” Dunn said. “It’s the frontline, and for many students this is their first experience with direct patient care.”
Darby Grace, an enthusiastic first-year student, said the work becomes more rewarding as she learns her profession. “There are so many people who have questions, and I really like to be able to answer them,” she said.
Grace said the people who stopped by for the diabetes screenings were always grateful whether she told them their readings were good or not so good.
“Just being able to impact somebody’s life like that is a really neat feeling,” she said. “I feel like I’m doing something important and applying what I’m learning. I like it a lot.”
The student volunteers are part of the
Besides helping with immunizations and diabetes screening, the students also provide heartburn awareness information and hand out medication that helps relieve heartburn symptoms.
UAMS students have screened more than 2,000 people for diabetes at locations throughout the state this year, Dunn said.
“A lot of people won’t go to the doctor, but they’ll sit down and let our students check their blood glucose; it’s free and it’s convenient,” he said. “Whenever necessary we refer these individuals to a doctor for further evaluation. It’s surprising the number of people we see who have never been checked for diabetes.”
Dunn said it’s good to help the public learn that pharmacists can do more for them than dispense drugs.
“We’re a wealth of knowledge and information,” he said.