Pharmacy outreach provides real world experience

Only a year into its existence, the Butler University Community Outreach Pharmacy is growing and expanding their impact to the Indianapolis community.

The pharmacy opened in August 2009 after Indiana University medical students contacted Butler pharmacy students about an opportunity to join them in their non-profit medical clinic.

“We provide pharmaceutical care for the impoverished,” Mike Demarco, third-year pharmacy student and director of promotions said. “We work together [with the IU School of Medicine] at the Neighborhood Fellowship Church and try to provide free medication for what we have.”

While the pharmacy doesn’t always have the medicines patients need, DeMarco said the students at the pharmacy are able to provide referrals to low-cost pharmacies that do carry those medications.

The pharmacy is completely student-operated.

For legal precautions, though, there are always extra staff members on hand to look over the work completed by the student. Lauren Beeson, vice chair of the board of directors, said the staff is there to help out younger, more inexperienced students.

“We like to try and involve the younger student volunteers in patient counseling as much as possible,” Beeson said. “The older the student, the more they would know about the medications and the more they would be able to apply what they learned in class.”

According to BUCOP’s Web site, butleroutreachpharmacy.org, the pharmacy provides medication for short-term and immediate medical care needs. The students educate patients on medications and preventative precautions they can take. All services are provided at no cost.

The pharmacy is funded by donations and grants through Butler’s pharmacy school, something that DeMarco said has been difficult to adapt to.

“We are strictly donation-based,” DeMarco said. “That is definitely one of the harder parts right now.”

“It’s difficult to try to keep the flow of supplies going.”

DeMarco said IU has been helpful to BUCOP while they look to find a more steady income.

“We are very smart about what we buy and we have the most cost-effective means of buying them,” DeMarco said. “We can get generic medications for larger amounts and cheaper prices.”

The community served by BUCOP benefits greatly from the volunteer work of the pharmacy students.

“These are patients that would probably never see a physician in general,” DeMarco said. “They are low-income and a lot of them cannot even afford to help themselves.

“The patients love going there and they really do appreciate it. They want to be able to show their appreciation, but they don’t have the money to do that. We see it every time we work.”

While the pharmacy’s main mission is to provide these free services, education and advocating for equal healthcare rights, it also largely assists the pharmacy students.

“[It benefits the students] for an obvious reason,” DeMarco said. “Some of them are working for their service hours.

“More importantly, we get to see real life consultation of medication therapy and provide what we learn in class to the community.

“You get to see how not everything happens by the book. It is more realistic to what life is going to be like.”

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