Imagine being sick and not being able to receive medication in the U.S. For many who live in the Rio Grande Valley, this is their everyday life. Too often, many Texans take for granted their access to health care and medication.
Students at the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy took notice to this. In response, they traveled to underserved populations to help those in need.
In April 2013, the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) at Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy developed Project SHINE, or Service & Help through Interprofessional Networking Experience. Project SHINE is an interactive health clinic that focuses on servicing indigent populations in the Rio Grande Valley while helping students gain hands-on patient care experience.
Professional students from the fields of pharmacy, medicine and nursing volunteered health services to more than 60 patients on Nov. 16 in Penitas, Texas. The event supplied residents with basic health care needs that they do not receive on a regular basis. Since the Rio Grande Valley is an underserved population, many residents there cannot reach a health care professional or simply cannot afford the treatment. At the event, professional student pharmacists from the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy were able to integrate in-school training and knowledge with hands-on patient care interactions to meet the mission of the college to reach South Texas.
The students from the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy who participated in Project SHINE see this shortage as an opportunity to give back to those that are truly in need.
“The original idea for Project SHINE was actually much different than what it is today,” said Christine Gamble of Houston and a third-year professional student pharmacist. “We wanted to have a truck that would drive around the Rio Grande Valley and we would provide services from there, but we felt that wouldn’t work. What we are doing now just seems to make more sense and provides the opportunity for many people to get what they need.”
Students from the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy were fortunate enough to have the help of health care students from other schools. Nursing students from the University of Texas Pan American and medical students from the Texas A&M Health Science Center worked side-by-side with student pharmacists to aid in patient care.
When a patient arrived, he or she would sign in and was then sent to a triage location. There, the individual received a blood pressure screening, blood glucose levels, a total cholesterol panel, and A1C, a common blood test used to diagnose diabetes. After the time at triage, the patient went on to a small group of students. There, medical and nursing students were able to review multiple symptoms from the patient, while the pharmacy students analyzed the patient’s medications.
“I think that is one of the best things about Project SHINE,” said Pamela Bosse of Sugar Land, Texas, and a third-professional student pharmacist. “The pharmacy students are able to work with students from other health care fields. We were given the opportunity to learn from the medical and nursing students. This is beneficial because it allowed us to put what we have learned to use. We were also able to work with other professionals, just like we will when we enter the workforce.”
Story by Art Niño, junior English major at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.