ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Pharmacy students are helping community members with all of their health needs to show how important pharmacists are to healthcare. It’s all part of “Community Outreach Day.” The day isn’t new to the New Mexico community but it is one-of-a-kind.

“It’s unique to UNM. We’re the only pharmacy campus in the whole nation that has something like this,” said Jaquelynn Flores, a student in the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy. “During outreach day the college offers free healthcare support to the community.”

The annual community event looks at the need for healthcare providers in the state. It then helps with the shortage by dispatching the College of Pharmacy students all over.

“Pre-COVID, healthcare initiatives were live, in-person,” said Flores. “They stretched across the state.”

However, this year, while they won’t be able to spread out across the state, they may be able to still reach more people. In an effort to be COVID-safe, they’ll take health assessments and teaching tools to the virtual level through videos and social media, while also spreading out to more communities all over the metro.

“This year it’s spread out all over the city because we aren’t able to have large events like we did in previous years,” said Haedi DeAngelis, a student in the UNM College of Pharmacy. “Most of our students are going to be at community pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS.”

Joined with pharmacists, students will work with community members on everything from diabetes management to immunizations, elderly fall risk and even heart health. They’ll also be on hand to help with flu shots.

“Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professional there is,” said DeAngelis. “There’s a community pharmacy on almost every other corner.”

They’re even using some initiatives to help patients’ families get connected with resources like paying for medications, which can be costly without insurance. Flores is a part of the college’s Diabetes Family Education Initiative and says this will be a big resource for families.

“Covers things like understanding diabetes, understanding risk factors and we really connect patients to community resources to help families manage the burden of paying for diabetic medications,” said Flores. “This Outreach Day will be one for the books because it’ll be on record.”

The College of Pharmacy is also bringing this education to senior centers for those who may not have access online. You can get health assessments with pharmacy students at most Albuquerque metro CVS and Walgreens locations throughout the day on Friday, Oct. 16. In 2019, more than 4,500 New Mexicans benefitted from the free services.

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