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Idaho State University

Idaho State University College of Pharmacy student awarded United States Public Health Service Excellence Award

May 22, 2018 - POCATELLO, ID 

Melvina Lake, a second year pharmacy student at ISU, has been awarded the Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award by the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). Lake was nominated by Dr. Brooke Garrett, associate dean for student affairs, Dr. Jennifer Adams, associate dean for academic affairs,  the co-advisors of ISU’s chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP), Dr. Glenda Carr, clinical assistant professor at ISU-Meridian and Dr. Rebecca Hoover, assistant professor at ISU-Pocatello.

The following excerpt from their nomination letter describes Lake’s activities and contributions to the pharmacy industry, which are significant for a student who has completed only two years of pharmacy school.

Melvina consistently demonstrates a passion to serving the underserved. She exhibits compassion, dedication and professionalism while participating in two different interprofessional community projects within Idaho State University. Last summer she participated in a student extern program on the civilian side of the Indian Health Service (IHS) on the Navajo reservation. The United State Commissioned Corps recently chose Melvina as a Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Externship Program participant.  She will be working with the IHS in Alaska this summer, which will further increase her exposure to pharmacy practice. 

Melvina Lake, Pharmacy student at ISU Meridian and winner of the United States Public Health System Excellence Award

Melvina calls the Navajo Reservation her home and aspires to return as an Indian Health System pharmacist.  To achieve this goal, she is actively participating in several community outreach projects during the academic year.  The American Pharmacists Association- Academy of Student Pharmacists has several outreach projects designed to increase immunization rates, screen those who are at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and provide education to children about the risks of inappropriate prescription drug use.  She is also involved in the Idaho Senior Refugee Project. In this project, students from various health care disciplines make home visits to refugees in the community who are over 55 years of age. The team of students, supervised by clinical faculty, review home medication use, assess vital signs, screen for depression and make nutritional recommendations to the patient and their families.  After the home visit, the team of students makes recommendations based on their observations to their primary care provider.

A third service project Melvina is involved with is the Community Health Screening (CHS) event.  The CHS has two main objectives; 1) connect individuals identified with minimal or no access to health care who are identified with a potential health care concerns to facilities in the community who provide free or sliding scale services, 2) provide an opportunity for students from different health care disciplines to learn together and then deliver screening services as an efficient team.  Services provided during the event include; depression and alcohol screening, vision and hearing screening, cholesterol and glucose level assessment, vital signs, hepatitis C and HIV screening, and a brief dental exam.

The Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and APhA-ASP co-advisors recognized Melvina’s desire to have a positive impact in the medically underserved areas of our community and in her home community. She participates in weekly conferences with her team on the Idaho Senior Refugee Project and home visits as required based on patient need.  Many of the screening services provided by the CHS project are attempting to meet the needs of the Healthy People 2020 goals.

Melvina participated in at least 4 immunization events since last semester; resulting in 100 or more individuals being protected from influenza.  During a fall health fair she identified those who are at potential risk of cardiovascular disease. She provided education on lifestyle modification including; increasing exercise, limiting fats and cholesterol, and decreasing salt intake.  If an individual had high blood pressure, cholesterol, or glucose levels she referred them to a primary care provider. On a recent home visit, she identified a patient experiencing side effects from one of her medications and determined that is was because she was getting twice the amount of medicine.  The patient was getting medication from a local pharmacy as well as a mail order pharmacy. After the issue was identified the patient felt much better and ways to reduce confusion in the future were discussed. In another home visit, Melvina recommended additional treatment to ensure that the patient was on gold standard therapies.”

In a letter congratulating Lake as the award recipient, Pamela Schweitzer, rear admiral for the USPHS, assistant surgeon general and chief professional officer for pharmacy, commented, “Your achievements that clearly support public health illustrate the importance of incorporating core public health principles into today’s pharmacy practice. Furthermore, your demonstrated passion and dedication to advance public health and the profession of pharmacy is truly impressive.” In the same letter, Schweitzer explained that the Public Health Pharmacy Award was established to recognize pharmacy students that make significant contributions to public health, including advancing the objectives of Healthy People 2020, the National Prevention Strategy, the Surgeon Generals’ initiatives, and the pharmacy profession.