The Class of 2016 is known for being involved. From service learning projects to community fund-raising events to holiday drives and health fairs, the Class of 2016 has been actively involved with the community since the day students arrived on campus. And that involvement has been paying off in terms of national recognition.
Three students from this year’s class — Geremi Boom, David Choi and Catherine Derington — together with P-3 Claudia Corona, were recently recognized by the American Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) for their work with the DAWN Clinic (Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs) in Aurora. The team was one of four in the country selected for an Engaged Service Award for helping to establish the clinic, which was conceptualized and developed by students from all healthcare professions on the Anschutz Medical Campus. It’s a partnership between the Aurora community and the campus and is open to uninsured, adult patients every Tuesday night.
The student-led and faculty-mentored clinic is showing students headed into the health professions what they can accomplish when they work together to provide care to underserved members of the community.
Depending on the demands of their studies, the student pharmacists often volunteer 40 hours or more at the clinic each month. They consider the experience to be priceless in their educational journey.
“My work with DAWN has been the defining experience of my pre-professional career,” said Derington. “I’ve learned so much about leadership, volunteerism, community engagement, project management, inter-professionalism, advocacy, teamwork, mentorship, organization, communication, healthcare systems and so much more! I feel confident that I can take what I’ve learned and use it to improve other communities and make even more of an impact on my world.”
The AACP award was given to the students in recognition of their successful efforts in providing primary care services to the underserved, building healthy and effective inter-professional relationships between trainees and promoting student involvement and leadership with community-based initiatives. Receiving it was gratifying and empowering.
“So often as students, we feel powerless by our ‘student’ status,” said Derington. “But, even without a degree, we have so many skills and so much passion. This award is unique because it recognizes that student pharmacists can and do impact the communities around them. It encourages students to envision their own communities of the future to enact change.”
Shaping the future
The four agree that the clinic has changed them, possibly even more than the patients they see. “This clinic has changed how I will practice as a pharmacist,” said Choi. “I have seen firsthand the future of healthcare. We brought a change to our campus to ensure the success of inter-professional collaboration in providing care. That is exciting.”
The lessons they learned will help them post-graduation when Boom, Choi and Derington start PGY-1 residencies at the Medical Center of Aurora, Johns Hopkins in Maryland, The Ohio State University Medical Center respectively.