Inspiring Future Pharmacists Touro College Of Pharmacy Teaches College Students Vital Skills At Summer Boot Camp

June 10, 2024

Seventeen local college students interested in pharmacy careers came to Touro College of Pharmacy (TCOP) last week, where they were hosted at a three-day “Pre-Pharmacy Summer Boot Camp.”

The students, mostly freshmen and sophomores, participated in numerous hands-on activities and engaged with faculty, current students and alumni.

The schools represented included Harlem’s City College of New York, Hunter College, Brooklyn College, Lehman College, Montclair State University, Caldwell University, and Touro University’s Lander College for Women.

“… designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in pharmacy.”

The camp was offered through the school’s Center of Excellence for Pharmacy Education and Pharmacist Care Services and supported by a five-year $3M HRSA grant designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in pharmacy.

“Pharmacy offers multiple career paths and numerous possibilities for anyone seeking a career in healthcare,” said Dr. Bupendra Shah, associate professor, dean of assessment and the Center’s director. “Our goal is to provide hands-on learning that helps students understand pharmacy is not just a drugstore or corner pharmacy. There are so many things pharmacists do that make a difference in patients’ lives.”

Making “Magic Mouthwash”

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Among the popular interactive activities were making a non-sterile “Magic Mouthwash” in a compounding lab to relieve pain from mouth sores; learning how to take patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and sugar levels; and learning how to perform CPR to save lives. After taking a challenging American Heart Association course on site, all of the students went home certified to administer CPR.

“I learned so much,” said Michael Marin, a Bronx resident who attends Lehman College and plans to pursue a PharmD after graduation. “It was fun!” 

Marin said his passion for pharmacy grew out of wanting to understand his mother’s medication regimen. He took a job as a cashier at a local CVS, where he was first exposed to the world of pharmacy. When things were slow at night, he helped the pharmacist count medications, stock and organize them. He then moved on to a technician position at another community pharmacy where he learned non-sterile compounding, and from there moved to his current job at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he makes IVs for patients, delivers medications to the nurses, and stocks carts with medications for patients.

“I love helping people. I love being that bridge between the patient and the doctor,” said Marin.

Love of Chemistry

Chelsea Sanchez, a rising junior majoring in biochemistry at Montclair State University in Jersey City, was also drawn to pharmacy in part by concern for a parent. She had watched her father struggle with diabetes, and then with kidney failure as she entered her teen years.

“Reading his prescriptions, I wondered what it all meant. What was he putting in his body?” she asked herself.

In high school, Sanchez’ interest in pharmacy was fueled by chemistry studies and a teacher who provided inspiration. She set her sights on working in community pharmacy, but now is considering other career paths.

“The summer program opened up so many doors to different specialties,” she said. “It was a great experience.”

Photo credit: Touro.

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