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Alexa Ang, PharmD Candidate 2020
Kamalpreet Jhutty, PharmD Candidate 2021
Vivia Phu, PharmD Candidate 2020
Erika Titus-Lay, PharmD, BCPS, BCPP

The California Northstate University (CNU) College of Pharmacy established a CPNP chapter in August 2018. We have been fortunate to accomplish many initiatives in our first year, largely due to the support from our college, and due to overwhelming student interest in the CPNP chapter at CNU. Right around the same time our faculty advisor started employment with the university, two students interested in psychiatry approached the Dean with interest in starting a new student CPNP chapter at CNU. The Dean at the College of Pharmacy recognized the need for improved awareness of mental health on campus and in the community, and fully supported the creation of a CPNP student chapter as the 17th student organization at the CNU College of Pharmacy.

Developing a CPNP chapter has had a major impact on the overall awareness of mental health on our campus. Our vision was to expand the dialogue regarding mental health conditions, and through the establishment of CPNP at CNU, we accomplished this. We recognized several awareness days in 2018 including World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th and World Mental Health Day on October 10th. Our CPNP chapter also held a Wellness & Resilience Week to raise awareness about burnout among pharmacy students in an effort to unwind and alleviate stress. Additionally, we initiated Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for our pharmacy and medical students resulting in 22 students becoming MHFA-certified. We strive to continue these MHFA trainings and hope to implement this training into the school curriculum in future years.

Our CPNP chapter participated in numerous health fairs within the community to educate the public about depression and anxiety, and to fundraise for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). One opportunity for community outreach was educating homeless persons in the community about signs and symptoms of opioid overdose and steps to take during a suspected overdose, including how to administer naloxone as an emergency reversal agent. We were also able to furnish naloxone provided through grant funding. This interaction with the homeless population was engaging and eye-opening because we had the chance to see real people in a real-life crisis. Goals we have as a CPNP chapter are to make sure people in our community are aware of the seriousness of the opioid crisis and to seek out opportunities to provide education about opioid overdose and reversal. We are currently in the process of partnering with Sacramento Harm Reduction Services to provide ongoing naloxone education.

Many of the community outreach events we participate in require pharmacists to oversee the education students provide, especially when naloxone is furnished. Faculty advisors within the College of Pharmacy are involved in these community outreach events, but we would welcome additional pharmacists outside of academia who would like to be involved. We have also previously done a site visit to an inpatient psychiatry unit to shadow a pharmacist who is not a faculty member but is involved with precepting College of Pharmacy students. We look forward to any opportunities that CPNP members can provide for our students to gain a better picture of what it is like to be a psychiatric pharmacist.

An opportunity for CPNP student members to engage with psychiatric faculty is through journal clubs. A goal of our student chapter from its inception has been to hold journal club presentations. We believe that hosting journal club discussions will assist student members in developing literature interpretation skills and neuropsychiatric pharmacy knowledge. Furthermore, as our journal clubs promote student engagement with psychiatric faculty, they facilitate professional mentorship and may ultimately lead to further research opportunities. During our first journal club discussion, our faculty advisor explained the concept of journal clubs and provided an example of a journal club. The discussion was informative and engaging, and many students who have gone on to do their experiential rotations have reported that our journal club was helpful.

Our CPNP chapter is proud of all we were able to accomplish and implement within the College of Pharmacy during our first year as a student chapter, and we look forward to further collaboration with our faculty advisor, as well as with clinical pharmacists and CPNP members outside the university. We recognize that our chapter has likely been so successful within the first year due to large class sizes (100-145 students per class), placement of psychiatric and neurologic topics early in the pharmacy curriculum, the planning of CPNP events by several highly motivated students with an interest in psychiatry and neurology, and an understanding that the CNU chapter is inclusive of all students regardless of their interest in pursuing a career as a psychiatric or neurologic pharmacist. We plan to keep the momentum moving forward through the creation of new relationships with other mental health and substance use prevention organizations in our community, through community outreach initiatives sponsored by our college, and through continued outreach to students early in the pharmacy school program. We plan to increase students’ understanding of mental illness, how they can assist future patients struggling with mental illness, and how they can become involved in our chapter.

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