As part of its ongoing efforts to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the College of Pharmacy has developed a series of open-door sessions as part of its 4MyPharmily campaign.
Julie Ann Justo, clinical associate professor for the Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences Department, developed the initiative to provide students with an opportunity to have a confidential conversation about anything related to COVID-19 with a faculty ambassador. The intent was to provide an environment where students feel supported during such challenging times.
“Our colleagues are stressed, patients are dying, and we know that students feel the weight of these stressful times as well. We want to change the conversation,” Justo explains. “These one-on-one sessions are tailored for students’ needs. They can use the time to vent, express concerns, ask questions, whatever they need. Our 4MyPharmily Faculty Ambassadors have helpful resources regarding COVID-19, but if the main request is someone to listen, that’s what we will do.”
Our colleagues are stressed, patients are dying – and we know that students feel the weight of these stressful times as well. We want to change the conversation.
Julie Ann Justo, Pharm.D. Clinical Associate Professor
Eleven faculty members are currently serving as ambassadors and will be available to meet with students through the end of October. Students have options to meet in person or via Zoom, and they can choose to speak with a particular faculty member when scheduling a meeting. Justo also hopes to have student ambassadors available in the future for those who may wish to talk with a peer individual.
The 4MyPharmily campaign initially launched with a town hall meeting to discuss the current state of COVID-19 in our community, to ask questions, and to share concerns from our ‘pharmily.’ Frontline clinicians caring for COVID-19 patients at Prisma Health Richland Hospital, Prisma Health Children’s Hospital, and Lexington Medical Center took part, and students also asked questions of Interim Provost Stephen J. Cutler, Interim Dean Julie M. Sease, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control representatives, and other experts.
While these are challenging times, we are proud to face them together as a community that supports and cares for each other.
Through the open-door initial sessions, many students have requested and received tips for how to speak to family and friends regarding COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. Faculty ambassadors have shared strategies for conveying empathy, curiosity, and helpful facts to others during these discussions. As a result, students have had more success and confidence in engaging in these discussions with their family, friends, and patients.
“While these are challenging times, we are proud to face them together as a community that supports and cares for each other,” Justo adds.