Gen Rx U Spotlight: University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota Generation Rx members present an activity to middle and high school students. (Photo courtesy of Landon Weaver.)

University of Minnesota Generation Rx members present an activity to middle and high school students. (Photo courtesy of Landon Weaver.)

by Landon Weaver

The Generation Rx program has been active for just over a year now in Minnesota.  The University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy operates as one college under two unified yet distinct campuses; one is in urban Minneapolis, and the other is in the more rural city of Duluth. Generation Rx was first implemented on the Duluth campus in the fall of 2013, and student pharmacists enjoyed educating middle and high school students about the very real dangers of prescription drug misuse. Due to the success of Generation Rx on the Duluth campus, the program was implemented on the Twin Cities campus starting in September 2014. Prior to this, the College of Pharmacy used a similar Minnesota-based program known as AWARxE. AWARxE also focused on educating youth on the dangers of prescription drug misuse. However, the program was somewhat limited, as it only provided content for use with middle- and high school-aged students. Aligning with the Generation Rx program on a national level has allowed the College of Pharmacy to raise awareness of the dangers of drug abuse for more individuals in both rural and urban Minnesota communities, particularly in underserved communities. This has allowed students to maximize the impact of this community outreach and public health initiative.

I cannot state how beneficial it was to attend the Generation Rx University Conference [The Higher Education Center’s National Meeting] last August.  I would highly encourage any chapters looking to expand their Generation Rx programs to attend.  Many of the projects we are incorporating came from ideas discussed there.  We have expanded our presentations from primarily being aimed at middle and high school students to now include education initiatives for faculty and staff, and we are hoping to continue this expansion.  Through social media like Twitter and Facebook, we are now raising awareness to those previously out of our geographical reach.  Additionally, plans are in place to donate a medication take back box to a rural area in need.  During one of the sessions at the conference, we learned about the use of rescue naloxone for reversing opioid overdoses by police officers in Ohio.  With inspiration from this discussion, our Minnesota chapter of APhA-ASP created a policy for our midyear regional meeting suggesting a similar stance be taken by the American Pharmacists Association.  All of these ideas have allowed for a growing number of individuals to become involved with Generation Rx at the University of Minnesota.

A new initiative we are excited to announce is our Dodgeball for Drug Misuse Tournament coming up in April.  Generation Rx capitalized on the growing demand for dodgeball on the Duluth campus and coordinated with our APhA-ASP student chapter to coordinate the tournament. Through this exciting event, we will provide an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff to participate in dodgeball while also raising awareness and educating the public about prescription drug misuse.  More information can be found here: and be sure to follow us on Twitter (@genrxmn)!

005Landon Weaver is the current Generation Rx Coordinator on the University of Minnesota, Duluth, campus.  He also serves as the Worthy Chief Counselor of the Beta Psi chapter of Phi Delta Chi and as secretary for the UM College of Pharmacy student government.

The Generation Rx Lab: A Fun and Innovative Way to Increase Awareness

Molly Downing, Assistant Director of the Generation Rx Lab at COSI, helps kids create their own hand sanitizer during an activity in the lab, "Germinator."

Molly Downing, Assistant Director of the Generation Rx Lab at COSI, helps kids create their own hand sanitizer during an activity in the lab, “Germinator.” (Photo Credit: Courtesy of COSI)

The Generation Rx Initiative at Ohio State University aims to broadly spread awareness about the growing problem of prescription drug misuse. Our audiences range from young elementary-aged kids to senior citizens, and like many organizations involved in this type of work, we are constantly devising innovative ways to deliver our message. One way that we have found success? Mobilize college students to lead outreach activities. We are amazed at the energy and creativity these students bring to spearhead so much of our work. Another innovative approach? Develop creative partnerships. Don’t be afraid to open up conversation with an unexpected group or institution; you may be surprised to find a common mission!
Here, we discuss how we’ve applied these strategies in the Generation Rx Laboratory at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), a unique drug education and research space housed within a premier science museum. In this space, which is supported by the Cardinal Health Foundation, college students work with faculty to develop and deliver educational experiments that museum visitors can conduct during their visit. In the process, these guests of all ages learn the science behind drug action as well as a lesson in medication safety. Here is Nira Kadakia, a second-year PharmD student and a longtime Generation Rx participant, speaking about her experience in the lab:
Through working at the Generation Rx Lab, I have had a unique opportunity to practice and build my science communication skills, while spreading the Generation Rx message. By utilizing college students to conduct and lead activities, COSI guests are afforded the chance to learn about science and medication safety in fun ways; in fact, sometimes it doesn’t seem like learning at all! For example, as part of one of our original activities, we had guests taste PTC paper, which contains a chemical some people can taste while others cannot. We used this to segue into an activity involving DNA extraction with a sports drink and soap. This may have seemed like simply a fun science experiment, but we used the activity to set up a discussion of personalized medicine and the fact that medicines do not work the same way in everybody. Our underlying message, therefore, was focused on medication safety.
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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Molly Downing and Emily Keeler

Recently, the lab welcomed a new addition to its family: a METIman medical robot, which affords lab guests the opportunity to simulate emergency medical treatments. So far, the dummy (Bob the Abra Cadaver) has experienced hypoglycemia, an allergic reaction, and a heart attack. Guests have been able to follow step-by-step protocols to help resolve Bob’s health crises.

One thing that has been the most beneficial to my colleagues and me has been being able to practice communication skills. As future health professionals, it is imperative that we are able to take high-level, abstract ideas and concepts and explain them in a way the general public can understand. The Generation Rx Lab is a great place in which to do this. Students interact with children of all ages and their families – not all of whom have backgrounds in science. Furthermore, each activity done in the Generation Rx Lab is designed to raise awareness about medication safety and preventing the misuse of medications. It is just one more innovative way to spread the Generation Rx message even further.​
The Generation Rx Lab is supported by the Cardinal Health Foundation. Learn more about the Generation Rx Lab at

kwieknirabothNicole C. Kwiek, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy. She is director of the Generation Rx Lab at COSI.




Nira Kadakia is a second-year Doctor of Pharmacy student at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy.