CPHS Urban Institute Initiatives

College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences: Committed to the University’s Vincentian Mission

St. John’s University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has fully embraced and is strongly committed to addressing unmet community needs through education, practice, and research, especially to the underserved and indigent urban population. The College continues to take pride in and live out the University’s Catholic and Vincentian mission and values.

CPHS is proactive in ensuring that the education offered is filled with robust examples of how to engage the community through service. In recognition of the University’s mission, and in the effort to fully inculcate the culture of service within the College, the Urban Pharmaceutical Care Research and Education Institute (later renamed the Urban Institute) was created in 2004.

The Urban Institute is an innovative 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. The programs intend to provide students, faculty, and the health science community the opportunity to better understand how the health-care 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 and the Changing Faces of Pharmacy Student Enrichment Program.

Flu Vaccine Community Outreach Initiative 

The College’s Office of the Dean and the Vincentian Institute for Social Action provided full budgetary support for this immunization initiative. The Urban Institute collaborated with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the University’s Office of 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 “nonpatient specific standing order” for its appropriately credentialed pharmacy practice faculty to administer influenza vaccines to adults in New York City.

The pharmacy practice faculty volunteer to participate in the initiative and are provided with an orientation program to review necessary procedures, review eligibility criteria, and contraindications for immunizing patients. Many participating faculty provide this as an AS-L experience to student pharmacists during their APPEs. The Urban Institute’s Flu Vaccine Initiative has run for three consecutive years and will continue this upcoming flu season year.  Sixteen pharmacy practice faculty have participated as immunizers for this program, with an additional two APPE students per faculty at each site.

Students do not serve as immunizers (in accordance with New York State law); they were invited by the faculty as an AS-L project to provide logistical assistance and provide faculty-supervised education to participating patients. Several flu vaccine clinic sessions have been scheduled with various community partner sites, providing vaccines to nearly 500 community members this past year. To date, this program has vaccinated ~800 community members. Program outcomes have been published in 2015 in the Journal of Vincentian Social Action, a national peer-reviewed journal.

Changing Faces of Pharmacy Student Enrichment Program

The Urban Institute also developed the Changing Faces of Pharmacy Student Enrichment Program (CFPP), which includes a mentoring component. This program focuses on underrepresented minority (URM) high school students with an interest in health care and introduces and broadens their understanding of the pharmacy profession.

The program aims to

  1. provide high school students with knowledge of the planning tools to become college ready and enhance their candidacy for college and/or pharmacy school admission 
  2. promote and enhance the awareness and knowledge of the pharmacy profession to URM high school students, and 
  3. provide longitudinal mentoring opportunities with Pharm.D. students enrolled in P4–P6.

High school students participate in several activities in this program, including an all-day, on-campus orientation where they are introduced to their Pharm.D. student mentors and take part in an interactive, live educational session conducted by pharmacy practice faculty and other University representatives; the University’s Open House, where they learn more about St. John’s and later engage further with their mentors by participating in a pharmacy-compounding activity in the pharmaceutical sciences laboratory supervised by pharmacy practice faculty; and a recreational session where high school students and their Pharm.D. student mentors attend a competitive collegiate athletic program.

High school students are paired with a Pharm.D. student mentor for longitudinal mentoring. Pharm.D. student mentors are required to complete an intensive Online Mentor Training (OMT) program. This program consists of three online synchronous and asynchronous modules that provide mentors with information on the objectives and expectations of the CFPP program, instructional interactive learning activities, and case-based discussions.

The specific aims of the OMT program are to provide structured training sessions to ensure consistency in the Pharm.D. student mentors’ understanding and knowledge of mentoring; provide guidance and support for student pharmacist mentors; enhance student pharmacist mentors’ confidence/competence in their ability to serve as mentors; and promote sensitivity and awareness of workforce diversity within the pharmacy profession among current Pharm.D. candidates.

Student mentors’ perception of the technology used to deliver the OMT was presented internationally as a virtual poster and oral presentation at the 11th International Technology, Education and Development (INTED) Conference and the paper was in the meeting’s proceedings (https://library.iated.org/view/CASSAGNOL2017STU). Throughout the program, high school students regularly communicate virtually with their assigned Pharm.D. student mentors for continued enrichment and education on the pharmacy program.

Since 2012, the Changing Faces of Pharmacy Student Enrichment Program (CFPP) has provided mentoring services and education to more than 185 high school students; more than 70 mentors have participated, with growing numbers every year. In the 2017–18 cohort, more than 65 percent of high school participants are female, and 90 percent are in their junior and senior years of high school. Twenty percent of students were of Asian descent, 35 percent were Hispanic or Latino, and 45 percent were Black or African American. More than 95 percent of high school student participants would recommend this program to their peers. To date, five students who participated in the CFPP were accepted into the CPHS pharmacy program. The outcomes for the 2014–15 cohort were published in 2016 in the Journal of Vincentian Social Action and program outcomes for the 2016–17 cohort were presented at the 2017 AACP Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN.