Students Receive Hands-On Learning at First In-Person Pharmacy Camp Since 2019

By Benjamin Waldrum

Pharmacy Camp was held at the UAMS Little Rock campus annually for more than a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic required a shift to virtual events. This was the first in-person camp held on campus since 2019.

pharmacy camp 2

Students (from left to right) Brooks Cesan, Breanna Stuart and Ashley Ramos.Willie Hicks

“I absolutely loved Pharmacy Camp,” said Mollie McClain of Marianna. “It really gave me a better idea of the different careers that are included in pharmacy. Pharmacy camp also answered a lot of questions I had, and helped me realize that pharmacy is the right career for me.”

This year’s camp was a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning. Campers were on campus June 8 in Little Rock for a full day’s worth of labs and activities. The remaining two days were spent virtually via Zoom, including guest speakers, panel discussions and interactive games.

The camp is designed for rising high school seniors and recent high school graduates who are interested in learning more about a career in the pharmacy profession. This unique camp incorporates active participation in a broad scope of learning experiences, including hands-on training in pharmacy practice skills, lectures by pharmacist practitioners, labs conducted by UAMS faculty, interactive activities with College of Pharmacy students and field trips to local pharmacy practice locations.

“We had a great group at Pharmacy Camp this summer,” said Melanie Reinhardt, Pharm.D., associate professor for pharmacy practice. “In our nonsterile compounding lab, they compounded several preparations, including lip balm, that they were able to take home. The students also learned about sterile compounding and visited our clean room. It is always enjoyable to meet the students and introduce them to the profession of pharmacy.”

This year’s camp hosted a combination of high school juniors, seniors and college freshmen. Of the 28 students, 12 were sponsored by the Arkansas Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association. Six were from the UAMS Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DDEI) Pathways Academy, formerly known as Pre-Health Scholars.

pharmacy camp 3

Students (from left to right) Doneyne Smith, Fallon Tolbert, Ezekiel McCain and Zane McCain.Willie Hicks

“I had a blast at this year’s camp and learned a lot of important things, which I will take into consideration for my career choice in pharmacy,” said Daniel Yates of White Hall. “If allowed, I will see everyone again at next year’s camp — and if not, then hopefully in about three years when I apply for pharmacy school.”

“The students were engaged and asked good questions about applying to pharmacy college,” said Angie Choi, Ed.D., the college’s director of admissions. “We have had changes to streamline our application requirements, including removing the Pharmacy College Admissions Test and reducing pre-pharmacy prerequisite courses to 60 semester hours.”

More than a dozen faculty and staff helped with instruction, and another dozen or more pharmacy student volunteers served as guides and mentors. Along with field trips to local pharmacies, camp participants also learned about research, oncology pharmacy and chemotherapy, geriatrics and how to prepare for pharmacy school.

Faculty members Reinhardt and Eddie Dunn, Pharm.D., led the on-campus labs. Speakers included Dean Cindy Stowe, Pharm.D.; Ashok Philip, Ph.D., associate dean of student services; Choi; Seth Heldenbrand, Pharm.D., associate dean of experiential education; and faculty members Brigette Serfaty, Pharm.D., Antiño Allen, Ph.D., and Brendan Frett, Ph.D. Nick Pettus, DDEI manager of diverse student recruitment, was also a guest speaker.

College of Pharmacy student ambassadors were Joseph Brill, Alanna Bramwell, Alexa Ramick, Szarria Thomas, Hayden Hyman, Chelsea Flowers, Emily Stover, Jessica Shepard, Kennedy Smith, Maria Neal and Anuj Singh.