For Alumna, Service is a Key Component to Pharmacy Practice
Christine Chim ’11Pharm.D., Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, incorporates St. John’s University’s Vincentian mission into her role as a member of the second cohort of the Clinical Scholars program, a national leadership program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The program prepares and supports small teams of clinicians from a range of disciplines to address a serious community health problem and develop solutions that will initiate positive change. Dr. Chim, an ambulatory care pharmacist, is part of an interprofessional, three-person team at Northwell Health, which also includes a pediatrician and an internist.
Dr. Chim’s team tackles the problem of housing insecurity, which is defined by the National Institutes of Health as high housing cost burdens; poor housing quality; unstable housing and overcrowding; and homelessness. Using a community-focused approach, they study through their project SHELTER (Strengthening Health through Housing Education, Linkages, and Training to Empower Residents) how to effectively address these challenges to prevent the growing epidemic of homelessness that many families face in neighborhoods such as Jamaica and Far Rockaway in Queens, and Hempstead in Nassau County.
After collecting data and identifying community members who suffer with housing insecurity, the team determines how they can best be served. Individuals and families in need are then connected to local resources within their communities, including those offered through their community-based partners.
Another component being addressed is education. Dr. Chim conducts home visits for patients, which is not a very traditional role for a pharmacist, especially in the Northeast. “When I began to practice, I was exposed to home visits for patients living in assisted living facilities to manage their medication or do blood work,” she said.
Home visits are included in her responsibilities now as a member of the Clinical Scholars team. Observing the home environment allows a practitioner to help the patient remove any impediments to their health, such as a person with diabetes leaving insulin unused and refrigerators poorly stocked.
Dr. Chim has always been service-minded, and her role as a pharmacist has given her many tangible opportunities. “The fact that I wanted to help people was my foundation, and then I came to St. John’s for my pharmacy training. I had a heart for the underserved from the very beginning, just from participating in community service activities and service events. The fact we are a Vincentian University really resonated with me.”
As a student, Dr. Chim volunteered at the New Life Community Health Center in Elmhurst, NY, where she is now Pharmacy Director. Since joining the faculty at St. John’s, Dr. Chim has participated in the Immunization Community Outreach Initiative, cosponsored by the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Academic Service-Learning. The program provides free influenza vaccines to poor and underserved New Yorkers at various locations across the city.
“When I was applying for residencies, I specifically applied for programs that were situated in underserved areas where I could best be of service.” She added, “Since we are a mission-driven University, we model for our students what it means to serve those in need. I’m really excited about this, because it’s another opportunity for me to give students the opportunities I had.”