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Roosevelt's College of Pharmacy prepares students to be on the front line in giving immunizations

PharmD candidate Thuy Tran giving a vaccination.

PharmD candidate Thuy Tran giving a vaccination.

Roosevelt University’s College of Pharmacy in Schaumburg is training its PharmD students to be certified in vaccinating patients against flu, hepatitis, pneumonia and other illnesses.

The College’s second class of 70 students received immunization training in February at the Schaumburg Campus through a 20-hour seminar that leads to certification through the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). 

“While pharmacists have been immunizing for the last 10 years, there’s been this slow build in public interest in going to a pharmacy rather than a doctor’s office for shots,” said Cara Brock, the College of Pharmacy’s director of professional labs who also led the immunization training.

In all, 137 students now enrolled at the College of Pharmacy have been given immunization training.  A number have been on the front line fighting flu in their communities this season and many more are expected to be in the field administering vaccinations in the months and years to come.  

“There’s an expectation today that all of our students, as well as pharmacists in general, will be certified and able to give vaccinations,” said Brock, whose certification training program culminated in early February with immunization demonstrations by students.

In fact, the number of doses of influenza vaccine administered in supermarkets and pharmacies increased from 6 million in 2006-07 to 17 million in 2010-11, according to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control.

 “It’s been a great experience for me and one in which I’ve really felt like I’m helping people,” said Emily Swayka, a Roosevelt PharmD candidate and certified pharmacy technician who has given more than 50 flu shots this season at CVS/Pharmacy in Glendale Heights.

A recent winner of the National Association of Chain Drug Store Foundation’s Leonard J. DeMino Pharmacy Student Scholarship, Swayka also has created flu-awareness flyers and has advised members of the public, particularly those over 65 years of age, about the importance of getting a flu shot.

PharmD candidate Thuy Tran, who also received immunization training and certification a little over a year ago at the College of Pharmacy, said the experience enabled her to help hundreds in the region’s suburbs avoid the scourge of the flu this season.

“The experience has helped me to practice for my future,” said Tran, who has given as many as 20 flu shots daily as a certified technician at CVS/Pharmacy in Highland Park and as a volunteer for a flu clinic held last fall at River Casino in Des Plaines. “It has helped me learn to communicate, which is an important part of being a pharmacist today,” Tran said.

Pharmacy class entering Fall 2011 - White Coat CeremonyPharmacy feature photo: Members of the College of Pharmacy class that entered in 2011 at their White Coat Ceremony. A tradition for the pharmacy profession, the White Coat Ceremony formally marks the beginning of one’s entry into the field of pharmacy. It typically is held prior to the start of clinical rotations.