First Virtual Pharmacy Camp Casts Wide Net, Sees Highest Participation

By Karmen Robinson

The three-day camp was held virtually, making way for an unlimited number of students to participate. This year, there were 53 campers – the camp’s highest participation to date.

The number of campers was previously limited to 30-40 students since they stayed in the residence hall for the duration of the camp prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Seeing that we had to go virtually, we decided to expand the number of students who could register for the event,” said Willie Hicks, the college’s director of recruiting. “We thought it would be a good way to include students who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to attend on campus.”

The students explored various aspects of pharmacy through a series of virtual lab visits and tours, in addition to interactive educational games, where they learned new terminology, how to properly handle materials within a laboratory, how to inject syringes and prepare prescription labels with medication instructions and more.

Sisters Anna and Allison Belin both attend LISA Academy West High School in Little Rock and participated in the camp for the first time.

Anna, 15, is a rising sophomore while Allison, 14, is a rising freshman. Both are interested in science and math, so they were excited to dive into different avenues of the health care field as high school underclassmen.

“I thought this was a really good opportunity because I know around junior year, students are deciding what path they want to take, and considering I’m in 10th grade, I’ll start doing that next year,” said Anna.

“I learned a lot more about pharmacy than I ever had before, and I didn’t know that there was so much to go into. My favorite lab was the sterile lab because it shows there’s so much that goes into pharmacy and making sure the patients are taken care of and keeping things clean,” Anna added.

The high school students also had the opportunity to hear from guest speakers in the pharmacy profession, engage with students from the college and learn steps they can take now to prepare for a career in a pharmacy.

Haden Rhoads, 18, was one of many incoming college freshman to attend the camp. He graduated from Alma High School in May and will attend the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith in the fall to major in chemistry.

“I’m going to take some pre-pharmacy classes there and hopefully get my pharmacy technician’s license. Later I want to get my doctorate in pharmacy, so I was looking at schools that were available for me,” said Rhoads.

“I know that UAMS is the school in Arkansas that everyone knows, so I wanted to learn more about their program,” he continued. “It was very enlightening to see all that pharmacy school had to offer and getting to see what pharmacists do on a daily basis. I really liked the personal testimonies from the guest speakers.”

Guest speakers included Kristen Belew, Pharm.D; Laura Lumsden, Pharm.D.; Brittany Sanders, Pharm.D.; and Kyleigh Stout, Pharm.D.

In addition to College of Pharmacy professor Eddie Dunn and associate professor Melanie Reinhardt, fourth-year student Callie Clement and second-year students Alexa Ramick and Maria Neal also led presentations during the camp alongside Nick Pettus from the UAMS Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.