College of Pharmacy holds free medical screenings

Sarah White

In an attempt to educate students about the role of pharmacists in health care and to provide free medical services to the University community, the College of Pharmacy provided free health screenings Tuesday, said project collaborator Sharon Rush.

The screenings were put on by the Pharmacy Council as part of Project Collaboration, a cooperative effort between pharmacy student organizations to host free screenings to lower-income areas of Austin, Rush said.

“We organize different health fairs through the community, but this is our only event in which we specifically target students,” Rush said. “Normally we are in places like East Austin and other low-income areas of the city, where patients have a high risk of diabetes and usually are without health insurance.”

She said that pharmacists are trained to help patients take their medications safely and to help them avoid worse conditions through preventative medication.

“Our theme for Pharmacy Month has been ‘know your medicine; know your pharmacist,’” Rush said. “We are trying to educate people on what pharmacists do and what they represent.”

Each health fair is hosted by a different pharmacy organization at UT, said Alley Packer, committee chair of Project Collaboration. The student volunteers from the different groups share the equipment provided by grants from UT and companies such as Target.

Packer said Project Collaboration has already held health fairs targeting Hispanic and Vietnamese residents in Austin and they expect to have more throughout the fall.

“We have health fairs around 10 to 12 times a semester. We have already reached about 1,000 people,” Packer said. “We hope to have served 3,000 by the end of the semester.”

In the screenings, pharmacy students checked patients’ blood glucose levels, blood pressure and body-mass index, Packer said. They also checked for indications and symptoms of blood diseases and diabetes.

“Working with students is so much fun,” Packer said. “Students are very inquisitive; they ask us all about pharmacy, the body mass index and the other numbers that we give them.”