Emily Campbell, PharmD Candidate, Class of 2021
Historian and founding member of Harrison School of Pharmacy CPNP student chapter
Nick Harrison, PharmD Candidate, Class of 2021
President and founding member of Harrison School of Pharmacy CPNP student chapter
Faculty Advisor: Cherry Jackson, PharmD, FASHP, FCCP, BCPP
The life of a pharmacy student can be trying. Stressors include keeping up with never-ending deadlines, determining how to make it to the next release of student loans, and worrying about whether you are competitive enough for a residency. Pharmacy students these days, more than ever, are familiar with mental illness and have empathy for those suffering from it. It is no surprise that since our chapter at Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy was established in 2018, we have had about 80 members join our chapter each year. While many of our members have an interest in becoming a psychiatric pharmacist, others are simply advocates for mental health. Whether you are a pharmacy student or a pharmacist, we can all unite over our common goal within CPNP—to fight the stigma associated with psychiatric and neurologic illness.
Pharmacists may be wondering what they can do to support students who wish to pursue a career in psychiatric pharmacy. Any opportunity you have to mentor someone who is interested in psychiatric pharmacy- take it! Our student chapter has been lucky to have had the support of a number of pharmacists over time. Dr. Cherry Jackson, one of our chapter’s faculty advisors, was a founding member of CPNP and President from 2001-2002. Dr. Jackson has been vital to the success of our chapter through her encouragement and experience. Along with Dr. Jackson, we have had a number of pharmacists dedicate their time to speak to our chapter on a variety of topics, such as psychiatric pharmacy residencies, personal stories of addiction, emerging drugs of abuse, careers in psychiatric pharmacy, and the opioid epidemic.
For those who are looking to invest in the next generation of psychiatric pharmacists, consider identifying the faculty advisor or president of the nearest CPNP student chapter and offering to speak at a meeting or provide shadowing opportunities to student members. Pharmacy students may be considering a variety of practice areas, and a supportive pharmacist who is available for questions, shadowing, and mentoring could be a driving force in individual career decisions. A pharmacist’s commitment can empower students to make a large impact in their community.
Our CPNP chapter offers many opportunities for students to make a lasting impact. For example, our chapter holds a health fair every year. Last year, our chapter, with the help of 20+ student volunteers, was able to serve over 70 individuals on Auburn University’s campus by assessing their blood pressure, blood sugar, depression, and anxiety levels. Those who exhibited symptoms of depression or anxiety were provided resources for student counseling services and suicide prevention hotlines. Not only did this “mental health fair” benefit individuals on our campus, but it gave student pharmacists an opportunity to practice interacting with those who struggle with mental illness.
Our chapter also offers other training opportunities for members that can be critical in saving someone’s life. Students are offered the opportunity to participate in naloxone training, and so far, we have been able to train around 45 pharmacy students at the Harrison School of Pharmacy. Our training includes opioid epidemic statistics, opioid overdose signs and symptoms, proper naloxone administration, and education on naloxone standing orders and Good Samaritan laws. Intranasal naloxone is provided to the members who take part in the training so that they have the tools they need to save a life. In addition to combating the opioid epidemic, we also offer Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training to the entire pharmacy school several times a year. Several recipients of the training have utilized what they learned to assist a friend in a mental health crisis.
An important consideration when planning any chapter event is how to encourage participation. Our chapter utilizes social media accounts (Instagram: hsop_cpnp, Facebook: HSOP College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists) to promote mental health awareness and education, in addition to promoting our events and membership. We encourage members to repost our social media posts to reach as many people as possible. We raised over $1,400 for an annual Alzheimer’s Walk using this tactic!
While the benefits of using chapter-specific social media venues can be profound, CPNP also maintains a Facebook page (CPNP Student Members) that offers valuable information to students, faculty advisors, and others. Items are posted at least twice per month and include information on grant opportunities, psychiatric pharmacy practice areas, residencies and fellowships, consumer resources, networking, and much more!
Students who participate in CPNP student chapters are provided with many resources to make an impact. However, pharmacy students are only as good as the pharmacists who support them. A strong network of pharmacists is needed to teach the next generation, and luckily, that is provided through CPNP! Take every opportunity to get involved, whether you are a pharmacist or a student, so that we can officially #StopTheStigma!