Student leads in public health

watStudents sometimes lead in quiet ways, encouraging those around them.

Lori Watkins, a fourth-year professional student pharmacists, is one of those quiet leaders who makes a huge impact on those around her.

Recognizing her academic and extracurricular accomplishments with overarching goals of educating patients on specific diseases and promoting interdisciplinary education and public health, Watkins in the spring received the U.S. Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award.

Watkins of Corpus Christi, Texas, has volunteered with service organizations since her undergraduate years at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK).

She made it her goal to balance student organizations and class work to get the best out of both.

Watkins worked with children who have special needs in Camp CAMP, Children’s Association for Maximum Potential. Camp CAMP was founded in 1979 by a group of Air Force physicians that realized how important a camping experience could be to their patients with special needs. Since then, the CAMP has provided special needs patients from ages 5 to 45 with opportunities and activities that they would not be given otherwise. Campers can expect to partake in activities that range from horseback riding to canoeing in a lake.

Watkins served as the president of the Pre-Pharmacy Association at TAMUK. She graduated in 2011 and entered the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy in 2012.

During her time at the college, she has served as the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student

Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) Generation Rx co-chair. She led on the APhA-ASP executive committee as the assistant vice president of patient care projects.

Watkins helped coordinate and participate in Project SHINE, Service & Help through Interprofessional Networking Experience. Pharmacy students worked collaboratively with medical and nursing students to develop a temporary patient clinic, delivering primary care to more than 150 patients without medical insurance. At Project SHINE, Watkins performed patient assessments, provided medication counseling, and consulted the primary care provider with recommendations.

Scott F. Giberson, RPh, PhC, MPH, D.Sci (H), rear admiral, acting U.S. deputy surgeon general, chief professional officer, pharmacy, U.S. Public Health Service, celebrated Watkins’ work and efforts with Project SHINE to deliver primary care to the uninsured, Generation RX to deliver medication safety and poison control information to school-age children in the community, as well as volunteer efforts with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

“Her dedication to public health through these programs clearly supports public health and the goals of ‘Healthy People 2020,’ ” Giberson said. “Through these endeavors, she illustrates the importance of incorporating core public health principles into today’s pharmacy practice.”

Watkins expressed her passion and dedication in public health through pharmacy practice, to be a leader for the profession, not a leader of the profession, and most importantly to lead with integrity, service and excellence.

“Lori was a major contributor to the organization of Project SHINE,” said Melissa A. Hinojosa, fourth-year professional student pharmacist and 2014 president of APhA-ASP. “She brought ideas to the table, such as making care packages with toiletry items to the patients that are being screened and gathered information for presenting poison control awareness.”

Watkins has demonstrated empathy and true compassionate caring for community members in underserved areas in South Texas. She plans to continue to cultivate her passion and active mission in public health to make an impact on those around her, but mostly where there is a great public need.