Gen Rx U Spotlight: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy

by Sara Harstad

Katy's Kids 1

Photo courtesy of Sara Harstad.

Student pharmacists at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy are actively involved in educating the Erie community about safe medication use. Specifically, this has become the mission of a collaborative effort between APhA’s Generation Rx and Katy’s Kids programs.

Katy’s Kids was developed by the University of Iowa and focuses on poison prevention for preschool and elementary-aged children.  It has spread across the country, and Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association (PPA) has encouraged the schools of pharmacy in Pennsylvania to implement this program locally. With the recent expansion of Generation Rx to include poison prevention in its drug abuse education, we decided to combine these two initiatives. Due to increases in opioid abuse and heroin overdoses throughout the state of Pennsylvania since 2011, we believe it is important to educate Erie’s youth about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse from a young age. For this reason, our Generation Rx/Katy’s Kids programming works to relay information to Erie’s youth that they may not be receiving at home.

In the past year, our Katy’s Kids program has also partnered with Safe Kids Erie, a local public health organization, to educate school-aged children and adolescents about poison prevention, the dangers of taking medication without adult supervision, and the danger in assuming that an unknown liquid or solid is safe to consume. Our most recent addition to our Katy’s Kids presentations included the adoption of “Spike’s Poison Prevention Adventure” for grades K-2, where the theme song includes phrases such as “If you don’t know what it is, stay away… If you think it might be poison, stay away.” The main take-home message is, “Quills up, stay away!”

Katy's Kids 6

Photo courtesy of Sara Harstad.

Our mainstay activities for grades 3-6 include games where students try to decipher between two similar products presented to them, and determine which one is the candy and which is the medicine.  This activity helps enforce the fact that poison can look like candy and vice versa. A good example of look-a-likes includes the comparison of chocolate to laxatives or the comparison of apple juice to Pine-Sol. A new activity we have in mind for next year that may help enforce this concept is to have kids take The Jelly Bean Challenge. This challenge is a popular game among children, where the child chooses between two identical Jelly Beans to taste, one with an unpleasant taste, and one with a pleasant taste. We can then explain to the children how this can be related to the difficulty of determining what is a poison and what is not.

We are always looking for opportunities to reach out to new schools and educational programs where we can present our Katy’s Kids and Generation Rx information, in order to reach out to as many youth as possible. In this upcoming year, we are planning to expand Generation Rx by reaching out to inner city schools, after school programs, and local colleges, where prescription drugs abuse, such as Adderall, may be prevalent. Other ideas for presentations include teaming up with local undergraduate medical programs, such as physician assistant, physical therapy, and nursing programs to educate about the importance of medical care teams and the opportunities for collaboration between pharmacists and other medical professionals in identifying and addressing prescription drug abuse.

The newest population of individuals to whom we’re interested in reaching out includes those who are imprisoned. The most recent reports available for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections from 2013, stated that 26.8 percent of offenses for those imprisoned were related to violations of narcotic drug laws. Following a presentation at a Women’s State Correctional Institute, we learned that a majority of those inmates were imprisoned for offenses that were secondary to their drug abuse problems, and, even more surprising, 75 percent of pregnant inmates were being maintained on methadone throughout their pregnancy. We recognize that many of these inmates are parents; we can impact not only their safety, but their children’s safety, as well.

Seeing some of the life-altering consequences that drug abuse has on individuals was an eye opening experience for our Generation Rx/Katy’s Kids members, and has only inspired and challenged our APhA-ASP chapter to continue to reach further into the Erie community to educate and reduce the prevalent prescription drug abuse.

We are proud of the development and outreach of our Generation Rx program thus far. Our initiatives have been recognized and applauded by local government officials who are also passionate about keeping the children in our community safe. We are confident that the changes we have made in the past year by including Spike’s message, combining Generation Rx with Katy’s Kids, and partnering with Safe Kids Erie will bring about positive effects that will benefit our community, and we cannot wait to see how these changes impact our outreach in the coming years! From Spike’s perspective, “Quills down, stay close!” by keeping an eye on our chapter!

sara harstadSara just completed her first year at LECOM School of Pharmacy’s accelerated program. She loved her involvement with GenRx/Katy’s Kids this past year, serving as the program’s co-chair. Sara came to LECOM from Minnesota and has hopes of returning to the Midwest for residency upon graduation in 2017.

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.

Nicole Whalen: The Rx Factor Unites Students to Raise Awareness

The Rx Factor was started in 2011 by a group of students at The University of Tampa (UT) in order to address the growing concern of prescription drug abuse among college aged students. Spurred by personal experiences and a passion for educating their peers, this organization was started by students for students.

The goals of the organization are quite simple: The Rx Factor seeks to educate the UT student body on the multidimensional consequences of prescription drug misuse. Through community collaboration and peer-to-peer interactions, we aim to empower students at UT to change the course of this epidemic. By raising awareness, in addition to altering attitudes and behaviors, we hope to reduce the negative consequences that students may experience if currently engaging in prescription drug misuse.  What makes the organization so special is the fact that it is students helping to educate other students at the same level. There is no superiority or judgment; rather, there is an open dialogue about a real issue affecting our generation.

Over the semesters since the Rx Factor’s beginning, we had the opportunity to run quite a few successful campaigns and wellness initiatives on campus. We were able to reach students through social media and events on campus and by creating initiatives that were culturally relevant to the college student demographic. For example, one of our initiatives involved taking hip hop lyrics that glorified the usage of Molly and flipping them around so they then introduced students to the side effects of taking that drug. Some of our initiatives were more successful than others, but all were able to provide invaluable information to students.

I think the most extensive project we undertook, and the one we are probably most proud of to this day, is the documentary we made over the course of the 2012-2013 academic year. The idea of creating a documentary was one that we had pondered for quite some time, but we were unsure if we had the resources and time to pull it off. After a year of hard work and immense support from peers, faculty, and community members, we were able to make it happen, ultimately debuting it in April of 2013. The documentary was filmed, produced, and edited by two film majors; the interviews were conducted by the Rx Factor founder; and I was able to draw an animation we used in the film. All of the interviews came from faculty members at UT, community members, such as our county commissioner, Kevin Beckner, and a student in recovery. The soundtrack was even done by a local band called Dropin’ Pickup’, which is composed of a few University of South Florida students. [This documentary can be viewed below.]

One key element of our organization is the diversity of our members. Our successes came not from being the same, yet rather from being different. Some members were public health students, but we also had students majoring in marketing, photography, psychology, film, and art. These differences broadened our scope and outreach, allowing us to get in touch with our peers in a wide variety of ways. It also helped to open ourselves up to new ideas, discussions, and brainstorming that otherwise may have never happened or may have fallen flat had we all come to the table with the same backgrounds, interests, and passions.

As an alumni of UT, I am proud of all the work Rx Factor members and supporters have done to raise awareness about the prescription drug misuse epidemic affecting our generation. I am confident that current and future students will carry on this work and continue to make a change in their community and their nation.

Below is the documentary, which can be viewed in its entirety.

NOPE Candle Light Vigils raise awareness, decrease stigmas

On a cold fall evening in October, I and several of my classmates gathered to spend an hour or so outside – away from our studies and our own goings-on. We had gathered not to celebrate the latest win in football but to remember the lives of those lost and those suffering from substance misuse. That cold night in October, we set aside other things we had going on to attend a NOPE Candle Light Vigil.

vigil 3

The Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education (NOPE) Task Force was started as a result of a growing number of drug overdose deaths in Florida. Thanks to the help of Richard and Karen Perry and Maryann Carey, the non-profit organization was created to provide educational and treatment resources to students and community members relating to the misuse of prescription drugs, opiates, and other substances, according to the NOPE Task Force web site ( The Perry family was driven to do something to make a difference by the loss of their son, Richard, to a drug overdose.

For the past eight years, communities across the country have been hosting NOPE Candle Light Vigils to remember those who have died from substance misuse and raise awareness about the consequences of misusing prescription and illicit drugs. In addition to raising awareness, the Vigil also seeks to reduce the stigma associated with addiction. The Vigils coincide with the start of Red Ribbon Week, a national campaign started in 1988 to raise awareness about illegal drug use (

Kelsey Kresser, a second-year student pharmacist at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, was inspired to host  the first NOPE Candle Light Vigil at Ohio State in 2012 after hearing NOPE Task Force founder Karen Perry speak at the Generation Rx University Conference earlier that year.

Members of The Generation Rx Collaborative (l-r) Julianne Mazzola, Kelsey Kresser, and Bethany Hipp, which hosted the NOPE Candle Light Vigil at Ohio State on October 21, 2014

Members of The Generation Rx Collaborative, including (l-r) Julianne Mazzola, Kelsey Kresser, and Bethany Hipp, hosted the NOPE Candle Light Vigil at Ohio State on October 21, 2014.

“Her story of how she lost her son, Rich, to an overdose really touched me and inspired me to bring more awareness about this issue to our campus,” Kresser said. “I hope that by continuing this event, we are bringing down some of the barriers to recovery and eliminating the stigmas surrounding addiction.”

At Ohio State, we had the opportunity to hear from Melissa O’Harra Brown and Wayne Campbell. Both are parents who lost college-aged children to drug overdose. In an attempt to raise awareness about the prevention and dangers of drug misuse, Brown and Campbell created organizations in their children’s honor, Hope Blooms and Tyler’s Light, respectively. These organizations are dedicated to educating the public about this serious public health issue.

vigil 4

Melissa O’Harra Brown and Wayne Campbell, of Hope Blooms and Tyler’s Light, respectively, shared their stories at the October 21st event.

“It was very empowering seeing [parents] face the tragedy of losing their child and try to make good from it,” said Amy Olander, a third-year student pharmacist and Vigil attendee. “This really opens my eyes to how important awareness and sharing stories is.”

vigil 5

NOPE Candle Light Vigil attendees had the opportunity to hear from speakers whose lives were directly affected by the misuse of drugs.

After they spoke, my classmates and I gathered in a circle with lit candles in one hand and stories of lives lost in another. We stood together as a “living wall” to honor parents, children, friends – people who are no longer with us. In that moment of silence, it was their lives we remembered.

vigil 2

This may have been one event on one night, but it instilled a powerful impetus to spread awareness about the issue of substance misuse, according to Divya Verma, a third-year student pharmacist who has helped run the event since its inception in 2012.

“…Putting a face to drug abuse inspires and drives us to educate and protect our community,” she said. “Hearing Tyler’s Light and Hope Blooms share their powerful stories resonates with me that anyone can be affected by drug abuse and addiction, and it’s essential that… we help treat addiction as any major other disease state to save lives in the long run.”

With the misuse of drugs being a leading cause of death in this country, it is imperative that both health care providers and the general public are aware of the issue and its consequences. We must use available resources to arm ourselves with information to assist those who need help and to prevent the progression of addiction so we don’t have more stories like Richard Perry’s, Hannah Brown’s and Tyler Campbell’s. The Candle Light Vigil helped remind us of the task at hand.

Photos courtesy of Emily Keeler.

Gen Rx U Spotlight: University of North Carolina

The Generation Rx chapter at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were in the top three chapters recognized for the 2013 AphA Generation Rx National award, and were named the the Runners-Up that year. To find out what makes their program so successful, we interviewed Rachael Carpenito, Marti Guidotti, Meghan Maples, and Beth Tevepaugh from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Generation Rx chapter.


UNC GRx Pic 6

UNC successfully established a medication take-back day with the Chapel Hill Police Department

The students at the University of North Carolina have been recognized nationally for their work in prescription drug abuse prevention. What has made your school so successful in its Generation Rx projects? What advice can you offer to other colleges to help prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription medications?

There are numerous components that contributed to UNC’s success in its Generation Rx projects. Passionate leadership with a drive to achieve goals, develop lasting relationships in the community, instill excitement amongst the student body, and create resources for future projects have ensured that Generation Rx projects are extremely impactful.

The creation of the “Natural High Series” served to both educate students and provide them with tools to be the best advocates in the community for preventing the misuse and abuse of prescription medications. This Series has continued consistently since its launch and is now one of Generation Rx’s most anticipated events. With the Series, involvement and excitement for other Generation Rx programming increased greatly.

New community relationships, such as UNC Horizons and Interactive Theater Carolina (ITC) expanded the project’s reach to populations never impacted before. With UNC Horizons, we were able to present to new mothers hoping to sustain a drug-free lifestyle, and we worked with ITC to create interactive scripts about difficult situations faced in regards to prescription drug abuse. These are just some examples of community collaboration that allows us to expand our reach alongside organizations with the same missions.

We encourage other colleges to start the year with a set of measurable goals and develop a foundation of passion and interest in Generation Rx among the student body. Once students have a true understanding of the purpose of Generation Rx, they will be able to work together to create innovative and impactful events that serve to accomplish your goals and prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription medications.

If you were starting Generation Rx activities at another school, what is the first thing you would do?

It is important to first make strong efforts to understand the mission of Generation Rx and then perform an environmental scan of the needs of your community. Once these steps have been taken you can develop goals that aim to fulfill the needs of Generation Rx as it applies to your surroundings along with the interests of your student body. Just as essential to performing background research is to educate your student body in order for them to join in efforts to accomplish your goals and have the biggest impact.

What does Generation Rx mean to you?

Generation Rx is an opportunity to give back to the community in areas that have directly affected many of the student pharmacists at our school. This intimate connection with the initiative has provided added perspective that it is our duty to our patients, colleagues, and the community to join the mission to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse. As an organization of pharmacists and student pharmacists, there is even more credibility to the education we provide as one of the more trusted health care professionals specifically trained to discuss these topics.

What is the most memorable experience you have had while teaching others about prescription drug abuse?

Because our programming had such strong focuses to impact the community while also empowering our own student pharmacists, we have one experience for each perspective:

UNC GRx Pic 5

UNC student pharmacists help collect unwanted medications during a local medication take-back day.

With regard to teaching patients, one of the most memorable experiences was through an organization called UNC Horizons where a student pharmacist had the opportunity to converse with young mothers recovering from drug abuse. In her discussions with the mothers, she was able to educate them about the realities of medication abuse. One mother spoke to her and thought, “If one is good, two must be even better,” – a common misconception with medications. This was a great opportunity to comment on how medication dosing is based off science and years of studies. She spoke about the basic pharmacokinetics of medications and that in some cases, medications can build up in one’s system and lead towards bad side effects and toxicities. She also highlighted the risks of acetaminophen poisoning for pain relief as an OTC product as well as abuse of opioids combined with acetaminophen. The student felt that after their discussion, the mothers viewed medications differently and would be more conscious of how to use them for themselves and their children. It was wonderful to see the mothers learning how to be advocates for themselves, an important life skill they would need when rejoining the community.

Another memorable experience where student pharmacists were greatly impacted was with the North Carolina Pharmacist Recovery Network (NCPRN) Panel. This event was made possible from the relationship between a Generation Rx leader and an NCPRN representative at the Utah School of Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies. With the NCPRN Panel, it provided student pharmacists with the opportunity to meet and hear stories from pharmacists who are recovering from addiction. It is not in the forefront of most students’ minds when entering a healthcare profession that they are at risk for medication misuse and abuse. This Panel was eye-opening to those who attended to see that addiction can affect anyone, and students felt it was very helpful to hear stories from their colleagues in order to empower them to be self-vigilant.

Why do college students need to be concerned about medication safety?

Rameses (the Tar Heels mascot) joined our students to raise awareness about the dangers of misusing stimulant medications.

Rameses (the Tar Heels mascot) joined our students to raise awareness about the dangers of misusing stimulant medications.

College students are under a great deal of pressure to perform well and achieve in order to mold their futures. In the face of this, students are willing to turn towards prescription medications in order to cope with the pressure and achieve short-term success. One student may use amphetamines in order to stay awake to study for an exam, and another may turn to benzodiazepines to ease the anxiety about upcoming deadlines or interviews for future careers. For most students, college is the first taste of independence and they may not have yet learned the consequences of their actions. While we advocate appropriate use of medications, their abundant presence and ease of access on campuses have opened the doors for misuse and abuse that is only encouraged by the misconception that because they are prescriptions they are safer than street drugs. Education and empowerment around safe use of medications can help save the lives of many college students and teach them the benefits of positive choices for long-term success.


If you could tell everyone only one thing about prescription drug abuse, what would it be? Why?

It is important for people to be their own advocates in the face of prescription drug abuse. Medications are complex and can be dangerous, but prescription drug abuse is more preventable than some may think. Taking responsibility to learn everything they can about medications they come in contact with will help them to use the medication as intended. Not only will they learn to store medications properly and adhere to prescribed regimens, but they will also know the consequences of misuse and abuse in order to be able to make the right decisions before being faced with addiction.

Many are already struggling with addiction.  It is important for us all to view addiction as a chronic disease, similar to hypertension and diabetes. It is not a choice, it should be talked about openly, it can affect anyone, and it requires ongoing care and support.  Treating it as such will encourage those afflicted by it to reach out for help.

Photos courtesy of Macary Marciniak.

Gen Rx U Spotlight: University of New Mexico

The University of New Mexico’s Generation Rx Chapter recently won the national APhA Generation Rx Award to recognize their outstanding work in prescription drug abuse prevention and education. To find out what has made their program so successful, we interviewed a group of students from UNM’s chapter of Generation Rx.

Joanna Lee

Joanna Lee

Megan Thompson

Megan Thompson

Here is what they had to say about Generation Rx at their university:

The students at the University of New Mexico have been recognized nationally for their work in prescription drug abuse prevention. What has made your school so successful in its Generation Rx projects? What advice can you offer to other colleges to help prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription medications?

David Garcia

David Garcia

Arika Mike

Arika Mike

The Generation Rx program at the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy has been successful because our entire state is behind this initiative. As a student body, we have made important connections statewide. Much of our student body are residents of New Mexico, and enjoy returning their hometowns to talk with their previous teachers, coaches, principals and guidance counselors about this issue and how we can help educate their students. As a result, this spurs excitement among the schools and enthusiastically offers the opportunity for us to get into the classrooms and present. This has been an extremely successful approach.

UNM_Billboard_CampaignIn fact, we have been able to deliver our message in 28 out of the 33 counties in New Mexico. We also have a very dedicated core group of students who are willing to travel statewide to present. Use your School/College of Pharmacy resources!  Use your people resources, like students, faculty, staff and administration. They have connections in the community that reach far beyond what only students have. We have established long-lasting relationships with local and statewide schools just by talking to the people in our own backyard.  If there are more than 1 School/College of pharmacy in the state, join forces to make a greater impact. Utilize the resources provided by Cardinal Health and the Ohio State University to develop your own personalized presentation specific to your community. Send us an email! We are more than happy to provide you with tools or share stories of how we operate with everyone in our community. We would love to help you develop your program any way we can.

If you were starting Generation Rx activities at another school, what is the first thing you would do? 

UNM Generation_Rx_Team_At_APhA-ASP_Annual_2014We can’t just list one!

  1. Enlist a dedicated core group of students who are passionate about this issue.
  2. Use a “train the trainer” model to get new students trained on the various Generation Rx presentations available.
  3. Ask the student body, faculty, staff and administration if they are involved with an outside organization, or have a venue where this information would be well received (high school alma maters, youth groups, sports teams, Girl/Boy Scout troops, Rotary clubs, etc.).
  4. Give a presentation!

What does Generation Rx mean to you?

An initiative designed to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and misuse. The “pill taking” generation affects everyone and spans all age groups. Through this free education and prevention program, this initiative can hopefully prevent one more overdose death, rescue one more person from addiction, and, save one more family from suffering a tragic loss.

UNM Generation_Rx_TrainingWhat is the most memorable experience you have had while teaching others about prescription drug abuse?

Recently we were able to present to our first group of youth in recovery. Of all the presentations we have given, this one has truly been the most impactful and memorable for me. To hear the stories of these teenagers’ past drug use and lifestyles they have had to overcome was extremely moving.  We talked about why they felt the way they did when they were using, why they felt cravings, and why their bodies felt the way they did when they were in withdrawal.  This was incredibly impactful for me, and I hope they will remember what we taught them as they bravely start their recovery.  It was at that moment that I felt like I was making a difference.

Why do college students need to be concerned about medication safety?

Medications can be safe and effective when taken the right way.  But when they are abused, or when medication is shared, the consequences can be dire. We hear over and again things like ““I know this won’t hurt me because I know how much to take,” and “My friend takes this and nothing bad happens to them.” Medications are typically dosed based on the severity of the disease and the patient’s height and weight. In college, oftentimes medications are shared, in an attempt to use them for studying or just to party. College students may have no knowledge of what the drug will do to them and they could have a serious allergic reaction, experience dangerous side effects, or, worse, die from an accidental overdose. No one is too strong or too smart to beat a drug if it is abused.  As student pharmacists, we have the duty to stop the spread of misinformation, and ensure safety to our communities.

If you could tell everyone only one thing about prescription drug abuse, what would it be? Why?

DON’T EVEN GET STARTED! No one is strong enough, famous enough, or smart enough to be “invincible” to this problem. Prescription medications improve the lives of patients every day when they are taken as prescribed and appropriate, but they have the potential to be just as dangerous as illegal drugs when abused and misused.

Gen Rx U Spotlight: East Tennessee State University

Jake Peters

Jake Peters

Brandie LeBlanc Clawson

Brandie LeBlanc Clawson

East Tennessee State University’s chapter of Generation Rx earned the title of second place national chapter in 2013. To find out what makes their program so successful, we interviewed Brandie LeBlanc Clawson, the Generation Rx Committee Chair, and Jake Peters, a pharmacy student and President of the Tennessee Society of Student Pharmacists.


Here is what they had to say about Generation Rx at their university:

ETSU genrx groupThe students at East Tennessee State University have been recognized nationally for their work in prescription drug abuse prevention. What has made your school so successful in its Generation Rx projects? What advice can you offer to other colleges to help prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription medications?

Brandie: Commitment, Innovation, and Collaboration are what I would say make our program at ETSU successful. Due to our location in Appalachia prescription drug abuse is a big issue. Our families, friends, and community are all affected by the issue making it hit home for a lot of people. To help prevent prescription drug abuse and misuse in their communities use your current resources available and expand from there. The pre-fab materials from Cardinal and Ohio State University are readily available and a great way to get started. Empower and partner with other individuals and community partners. We got our start at ETSU through a local detention center and by having our student pharmacists reach out to their high school teachers to allow us to present there. Each college of pharmacy is also unique so take the pulse of your school and community prior to designing your program; this will ensure the longevity of your program in the community.

ETSU kidIf you were starting Generation Rx activities at another school, what is the first thing you would do?

Jake: Find your niche.  Each community has a different need as it pertains to prescription drug abuse and misuse, so examining your population is key to developing a successful program.  Once you’ve identified your target areas, take the available resources you have from APhA-ASP, Cardinal Health, and the Generation Rx Initiative website maintained by Ohio State and adapt them to meet those needs.  Prescription drug abuse is a national problem, one that doesn’t have a one-size-fits all solution, so the more innovative and informative you can be with your programming, the better.

ETSU boothWhat does Generation Rx mean to you?

Brandie: As cliché as it might sound Generation Rx is a program I have been waiting for. It provides student pharmacists with a way to educate individuals, communities, healthcare providers, and most importantly us as pharmacists. Prior to starting pharmacy school I worked as a critical care registered nurse and saw the heart break prescription drug abuse caused in my community. Since starting pharmacy school I have a completely different understanding and feeling about prescription drug abuse due to the program. I challenge anyone who works this program not to have a change of heart or mind once they begin to learn the mechanisms of devastation this disease causes. I am now a more empathetic person toward the people suffering from this disease and feel empowered to help them combat their disease.

ETSU labWhat is the most memorable experience you have had while teaching others about prescription drug abuse?

Jake: By far it has been the stories.  Numerous times when we have talked with the youth, we have had students come to us with stories of how they have been affected by prescription drug abuse, either by themselves, a friend, or a family member.  While this can be disheartening to have a face, often a young and innocent one, to put with the problem of prescription drug abuse, what makes this a positive is that every time, those students have told us how our program has inspired them to change things for the better and that they’re excited to make that difference in their life.

Why do college students need to be concerned about medication safety?

Brandie: College students are at a pivotal point in their lives, the choices they make today will directly affect the rest of their life. Medications, while safe when taken appropriately have dangerous side effects when they are misused or abused. No one sets out to become an addict; without education about proper medication safety college students are setting themselves up to have a life-long disease that is avoidable.

ETSU activityIf you could tell everyone only one thing about prescription drug abuse, what would it be? Why?

Jake: Prescription drug abuse doesn’t play favorites, choose sides, or affect only certain populations.  It doesn’t matter how successful you are or if your life is in a complete rut, prescription drug abuse can grab a hold of you and hang on a lot harder than you can ever imagine.  Staying informed and making the right decisions to avoid even the risk of prescription drug abuse is key.  But if prescription drug abuse is something that you or someone you know struggles with, remember that addiction is a disease, just like diabetes or high blood pressure.  It can be treated and people need support.  Find a way to be that support system for someone or seek that support for yourself.  Addiction is not a terminal illness if you choose to take it head-on.