This week marks one month since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The category 5 storm was the strongest to make landfall on the island in 85 years. It knocked out power, destroyed homes and caused widespread flooding. Among the devastation, several practice sites for University of Puerto Rico School of Pharmacy students were also damaged or destroyed.
To graduate, fourth year pharmacy students must complete their advanced professional practice experiences, or APPEs, at these practice sites. Since the students are unable to use sites on the island, they're trying to raise money to come to the mainland US. CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy students held a bake sale to assist with that effort,"Helping fellow pharmacy students is what should be expected of others in any pharmacy program. Sometimes we need to mentor another student, tutor them, or help them find opportunities to grow. Being able to assist fellow students on the brink of graduation with something as easy to facilitate as fund raising is the least we could do as a school to assist fellow students in their time of need," explains first year CU Pharmacy student Eric Hartsfield.
The three classes of CU Pharmacy students on campus organized the event, "It was especially notable that our P1 (first year) students chose to step up in a big way, essentially shouldering the load of providing our bake sale array," says second year CU Pharmacy student Ryan Sutherlan. "My feelings about this event reminded me why I wanted to be in this program, at this school. I have always believed that our students embody a sense of community that is powerfully unique. I feel that is very much our responsibility in this program to honor our commitment to the practice of pharmacy and helping all students succeed, regardless of where they live, " Sutherlan adds.
The University of Puerto Rico School of Pharmacy says they have received many offers from other colleges and schools, including CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy, to receive some of these fourth year students. Right now one of the Puerto Rico pharmacy students will be coming to Colorado to do their APPE rotations. However, even with spots available across the US, the financial costs associated with flying and the lodging needed for a four to six week rotation may put these sites out of reach for the students. What is especially difficult for many of the students is they are also confronting the additional financial hardships of loss of homes and family businesses due to the damage caused by Hurricane Maria.
Third year CU Pharmacy student Kellie Spence says the turnout at the bake sale showed the overwhelming support for the students at the University of Puerto Rico, "I think we genuinely cannot imagine how stressful and dire the situation is for students trying to complete rotations, and I think about what it would feel like to be in their shoes. I would hope that fellow pharmacy students across the nation would lend aid in our time of need, and that is exactly what the Skaggs School of Pharmacy is doing."
Proceeds from the bake sale will be donated to the GoFundMe page set up for the fourth year University of Puerto Rico pharmacy students. The school says, any funds raised in excess of the campaign goal, will go directly to University of Puerto Rico students who are in need of financial assistance to help rebuild their lives after Hurricane Maria.