College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Community Outreach and Engagement Initiatives

Pharmacy students with lab coats
September 23, 2019

Community Outreach and Extracurricular Initiatives

University Service Day

University Service Day (USD) is a University-wide annual day of service that is conducted under the auspices of the University’s Office of Mission. It is an annual celebration of the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul and spearheads the beginning of St. John's University’s Founder’s Week. The College participated in USD last September by partnering with various community organizations to conduct medication brown bags, provide medication education to seniors, conduct blood pressure and diabetes screenings, raise funds, and provide immunizations to underserved and marginalized populations. All of the College's service activities were spearheaded and facilitated through the collaborative efforts of its faculty, students, and administrators. This past year, the College had more than 250 students, faculty, staff, and administrators provide services in more than 25 community sites in the New York City area. Collectively, the College's USD participants spent a total of 1,873 volunteer hours on various community service projects for this campus-wide initiative.

Civic Engagement, Community Outreach, and Curricular Initiatives

Academic Service Learning (AS-L)

As one of the many initiatives offered by the Office of Mission, Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) has been a staple throughout the University. Academic service-learning at St. John's is a program that involves students engaging in some form of required community service that benefits the public good and uses service as a means of understanding course (i.e., didactic or experiential) concepts.

With the support of the University’s Office of International Education, AS-L initiatives have expanded with the introduction of global AS-L opportunities for student pharmacists on their APPEs. The CPHS has demonstrated a longterm commitment to AS-L within its curricula. Of note, students completing their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) are provided with an AS-L opportunity. Twenty-four faculty offered an APPE with an AS-L component, giving more than half of the APPE students with an opportunity to participate in AS-L during their experiential training and collectively completing approximately 24,784 AS-L hours in the 2018–19 academic year. Globally, students have opportunities to enroll in APPEs  with an AS-L component in Guatemala, Jamaica, and Taiwan. Students take part in a medical mission to provide logistical support to pharmacies abroad, set up and work in cancer screening clinics, and educate the population on preventative care measures with their pharmacy preceptor within their four-week experience. Collectively, more than 3,000 members of the global community were served and 1,156 total AS-L hours were completed.

Initiatives of the CPHS Urban Institute

The Urban Pharmaceutical Care Research and Education Institute, later renamed the Urban Institute, was created in 2004. The Urban Institute is an institute “without walls” whose mission is to serve as a “hub for scientific inquiry, innovation and service that impacts the health of the medically indigent and poor of New York City." Its mission is made possible by fully engaging and leveraging the expertise of constituents of the University community and establishing partnerships, collaborations, and strategic alliances with the New York City community at large. Its programs intend to provide students, faculty, and the health science community the opportunity to better understand how the healthcare needs are affected by the environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural characteristics of the city’s diverse communities, with a special emphasis on those who are indigent and underserved. The Urban Institute has developed and executed a variety of programs including the Flu Vaccine Community Outreach Initiative, the Changing Faces of Pharmacy-Student Enrichment Program, and the Scholars and Servants program.  

Flu Vaccine Community Outreach Initiative

The Office of the Dean and VISA provided full budgetary support for this immunization initiative. The Urban Institute collaborated with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, University General Counsel, and the Supervising Pharmacist of the College’s pharmacy to develop a cooperative agreement that allowed the College to become the first pharmacy school in the state to obtain a “non-patient specific standing order” for its appropriately credentialed pharmacy practice faculty to administer influenza vaccines to adults in the city. Flu clinics were also offered on the University's Queens, NY, campus. This past year, 11 flu clinics were conducted (community clinics, 3; St. John's, 8). In total, 620 hours were served and 605 community members were immunized.

Changing Faces of Pharmacy-Student Enrichment Program

The Urban Institute, in collaboration with the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, developed the Changing Faces of Pharmacy Program, its flagship educational outreach program, to engage with local Queens high school students. Its goal is to increase awareness of the pharmacy profession among high school students from underrepresented minority backgrounds, specifically Black or African American and Latinx or Hispanic youths.

This innovative program was developed for high school students with an interest in pharmacy and/or health care to introduce and broaden their understanding of the pharmacy profession and pharmacy curriculum. Selected students participate in this program with an assigned Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) student mentor, a Pharm.D. Candidate in the fifth or sixth professional year of the doctor pharmacy program. For the 2018 cohort, 41 high school students (n= 15, Eastern Asian/South Asian; n=8, Latinx, Hispanic, Spanish speaking;  n=8 White/Caucasian; n=7, Black or African American; n= 4, other or no response)  were selected from our partnering high schools including Archbishop Molloy High School, Queens Gateway to the Health Sciences, St. John’s Preparatory High School, Thomas Edison High School, and Union Square Academy for the Health Sciences. Sessions were facilitated by CPHS clinical faculty and Pharm.D. student mentors. Since 2012, the Changing Faces of Pharmacy-Student Enrichment Program has provided mentoring services and education to more than 210 high school students and more than 83 mentors have participated, with growing numbers every year.  In total, there were 323 hours served in this program.

CPHS General Community Engagement Efforts

Service Activities Survey

A 20-minute service survey was administered in January to capture service activities of the College, not including activities conducted on USD, through AS-L, or through activities of the Urban Institute which are captured by another reporting mechanism. Three separate surveys were sent including a faculty/preceptor survey, student survey, and staff and administrator survey. There were a total of  201 responses total, resulting in a response rate of 19.11%.

Nearly half of respondents participated in service in the 2018 year (46.15 %, n= 102). As the survey progressed, many respondents skipped question prompts, resulting in a 25 percent drop-off rate at the end of the survey. It is also important to note that participants may have done different types of service activities during this period, so the numbers of participants per activity may overlap and the following does not describe discreet data.  

Of those who responded, most respondents (n=50), participated in the community health fair/health and wellness initiative, including community education program (i.e., toxicology awareness, lifestyle education, Medicare Part D, public health etc.), safe medication use services and education (i.e., brown bag, medication chat, drug take back etc.), screening programs (i.e., blood pressure, cholesterol, HIV/HCV etc.) and immunization programs (not conducted by the Urban Institute). A smaller number of respondents  participated in an advocacy/education programs including general wellness education programs (i.e., lifestyle education, health and wellness etc.), social justice program (i.e., health equity advocacy, environmental justice etc.), and civic engagement program (i.e., lobby day, registering voters). In terms of general community service or other civic engagement activities, respondents also  conducted fundraising programs (i.e. breast cancer, relay for life, marathon etc.), helped the hungry and/or homeless populations by volunteering at soup kitchens and conducted clothing/food drives, engaged in helping animals or environmental activities (e.g., volunteering at animal shelter, water clean-up/testing), participated in community enhancement (e.g., park clean up, repainting park benches, trash clean up, etc.), volunteered at youth or senior programs (e.g., tutoring, nursing home volunteering, reading, Boy Scouts of America or local parish, etc.).  A large number of these programs hosted students and provided them a growth opportunity. A total of 16,744 hours were collectively completed and 11,766 community members were served during these activities.

The CPHS is committed to addressing unmet community needs, especially for those in the underserved urban population, through education, practice, and research. We continue to take pride in and live out the University's Catholic and Vincentian mission and values.