The students include third years Rebecca Maloney, Dowelltown; Chandler Parris, Canton, North Carolina; and Nicholas Shields, Granite Falls, North Carolina.
They were selected out of 40 students from health profession schools across the United States and will travel to San Antonio in March for the program’s leadership symposium. Students commit their time and effort to improve health within their communities through the planning and implementation of a community-based project, according to the program’s website.
Shields’ project consists of screenings and brief interventions for alcohol use disorder at the Johnson City Community Health Clinic with Dr. Sarah Melton, professor of Pharmacy Practice.
“I noticed alcohol use disorder was a problem in our area while on my institutional rotation last summer and found out that less than 15% of these patients receive any long-term help and are often readmitted,” said Shields. “Making (screenings and interventions) a normal part of primary care protocol would result in a larger number of patients receiving help and decrease the stigma surrounding substance use disorders.”
Parris’ project will focus on engaging community pharmacies in pediatric public health promotion and prevention by equipping them with a toolkit of resources on topics considered valuable to pediatric health and disease prevention by the overall interprofessional team.
“Community pharmacists have the unique opportunity to interact with the public without appointments needing to be scheduled and without the need to charge a fee for the information they distribute,” said Parris. “This makes them an ideal setting to begin addressing these key determinants of health.”
Maloney’s project will attempt to stop the stigmas associated with mental health care in East Tennessee. She plans to create a campaign called “Stop Stigma” that will be executed by raising public awareness via several communication outlets, specifically social media platforms, a public radio broadcast and the development of a short film raising awareness for patients in the community who have mental illness.
She plans to work in collaboration with the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacy, a professional society with a chapter at ETSU, to complete this project and to track the community impact in collaboration with the College of Public Health.
“The need to address stigma is more crucial than ever in the Appalachian region as families continue to be disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic and the pervasive stigma against people with the disease of addiction,” Maloney said.