When it comes to accessing health care in rural areas, pharmacists continue to be a growing resource, and the College of Pharmacy provides training to address the need with programs such as Paired 4 Reach.
The Pharmacy Advancement in Rural Experiential Development for a Rural Health Education and Career Enhancement grew from the Paired with PEEP program, which launched in 2018. The Palmetto Experiential Education Partnership was funded through a grant to pharmacy faculty members Whitney Maxwell, Jennifer Baker, Betsy Blake and Patti Fabel from the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare.
We want to develop pharmacists who are innovating pharmacy practice and bringing new services to rural areas ...
Paired with PEEP was part of an initiative to encourage pharmacy students to work in rural areas after graduation and to build a pipeline for improved future health care. The program was extended in 2022 with an additional grant and is now called Paired 4 Reach.
“We are implementing a rural health curricular track within the College of Pharmacy to be a lasting piece of the program," says Maxwell, associate director of experiential education. “We want to develop pharmacists who are innovating pharmacy practice and bringing new services to rural areas.”
Drew Junker, Class of 2024, recognized parallels between urban and rural areas related to health care issues while growing up in Baltimore, Maryland.
“In any underserved area, people may not have access to healthy food or have the time to exercise because they are working long hours to pay their bills. These are some factors that we have to consider as pharmacists when making care recommendations,” she says.
Caleb Wahdan, Class of 2025, says he better understands the significance of being an advocate for his patients.
“There are so many people who do not have the resources to live more healthy lives," he says. "As a pharmacist, I will have to think differently about how I can support my patients because I may be the only person available to care for them.”
After graduation, Sarah Beth Sears, ’22, took the skills she learned in the program to her postgraduate year one residency at Self Regional Healthcare in Greenwood, South Carolina. Having grown up in a small town, Sears knew that she wanted to return to help her community.
“The program helped me learn how to develop a plan that could improve patient care, and I was able to implement it," she says. "I was able to experience firsthand the limitations in rural health care and work to find what we can do to improve our patients' lives.”