A note from Julie Akers
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As I embrace fall, which includes drinking my pumpkin spice-flavored coffee, it is important to reflect on the past year and plan for what comes next. In my previous career working for a pharmacy corporation, October included forecasting and budgeting for the upcoming year and giving as many influenza vaccinations as I could. Now, it includes reflecting on how fall courses have gone so far, determining what classroom changes would benefit our students, patient care and profession in the spring semester, and taking time to celebrate achievements of those around us. I can’t ever recall reflecting on a past year and seeing so much suffering and hardship hand-in-hand with determination, grit, and resiliency. Our Coug Pharmily has been through a lot. It has not been easy and doesn’t appear that “easier” is just around the corner. I asked Dr. Manpreet Chahal (2010 PharmD, 2008 PhD) as Chair of the CougaRx Nation to write a message of reflection and hope. Here is what he had to say:
Dear CougaRx Nation:
Hello from the Chahal family. I hope this message finds you and your family healthy and well. With that hope, I also recognize that we are living in a pandemic that has impacted our jobs, our families, and our society. Every day we read depressing stories about how this pandemic is taxing our health care infrastructure and how many people are dying. Lost in those news stories are the personal impacts on our Coug pharmily. Whether you are a pharmacy student, recent alumnus, or a seasoned alumnus, this pandemic has impacted all of us. Many have shared personal experiences on how they are struggling at their jobs regardless of the practice site. Many are worried about exposing vulnerable and high-risk family and friends to the coronavirus. Many are considering leaving the profession and pursuing early retirement. Our pharmacy specific challenges and struggles are best understood by us, therefore, I ask you to reach out to your pharmacy friends, classmates, and coworkers to check in, offer support, offer a virtual hug, and perhaps send them some treats (I like macaroons).
The level of misinformation regarding the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines is unprecedented. All of you have come across patients at pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals that have questioned and challenged your advice on the vaccination. These interactions are frustrating, infuriating, and saddening. I think there is opportunity amongst the challenges of communicating the vaccination facts and correcting the various misconceptions that are spreading out like wildfire. We all have been trained to interpret study design, study results, and understand study limitations. Most of our patients have not undergone similar training. We have been counseling patients on safe and effective use of medications from the beginning of our student pharmacist careers. However, this pandemic has posed challenges around counseling that are unprecedented. What is the most effective way to educate our patients? How do we overcome the misinformation they are getting from family, friends, and social media? How do we get ready for the next pandemic? Or the next public health crisis? What do we need to do to win the public’s trust? I invite our student pharmacists, faculty, and alumni to brainstorm ideas to overcome this misinformation crisis. Now, more than ever, our profession has demonstrated the impact it can have on the lives of countless patients.
Amid the doom and gloom, I also want to focus on the incredible work that has been accomplished by all of you in getting our communities tested and vaccinated. I have come across so many inspiring stories of our pharmacy students providing vaccinations all around Spokane County, Pullman, and locations around the Northwest. Similar stories can be found of many of our Coug pharmily members giving their all to help turnaround this pandemic in every practice site imaginable.
It’s an undeniable fact that Coug pharmacists and Coug student pharmacists played an integral part in the COVID-19 vaccination roll out. So, a big thanks to all of you for doing your jobs in an exemplary manner for the last year and a half. You make the Coug pharmily proud!!
Manpreet Chahal, Class of 2010 & 2008
Chair, CougaRx Nation
Thank you Dr. Chahal for sharing your message. During times like this, it is easy to get caught up in the negatives, making it difficulty to see the rainbow through the rain. And sometimes it feels like it just keeps pouring, with one storm after another. But we must see the successes. We must celebrate the effort. We must encourage one another to keep going and, as Dean Leid would say, recognize our efforts are saving the world!
I cannot express just how proud I am of the way the profession, and notably our students, faculty, staff, and alumni, jumped in to help society. We should all be proud to be in the pharmacy profession and we should all be proud to be a part of the Coug pharmily. It truly is an amazing group of superheroes!
With my best and, as always, Go Cougs!
Julie Akers, Associate Dean of External Relations
WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences