By Nohemi Martinez, Pharm.D. Candidate, Class of 2023
The Farm Worker Family Health Program is a two-week volunteer service experience that takes place yearly during the month of June. Undergraduate and graduate students from interdisciplinary healthcare programs that include nursing, physical therapy, dental hygiene, and pharmacy all work interprofessionally. The purpose is to provide healthcare services to farmworker communities in rural southwest Georgia.
A typical day for pharmacy students included morning volunteer work at the local elementary school and providing pharmacy services to farmworkers in the evenings. At the school, pharmacy students reviewed medical charts, managed records, and escorted children to screenings. The students were able to interact with kids and educate them about important roles that a pharmacist has in the community. A variety of stations were set up around the elementary school, such as physical therapy, vitals, hearing & vision, and dental hygiene. Throughout the week, for part of the day, children were pulled from their classes and UGA pharmacy students, along with other volunteers, were responsible for making sure they received the healthcare available.
After volunteering at the school, the pharmacy students traveled to local churches, where they were provided with lunch. During their free time in the afternoon, they were able to relax by the pool or explore the town of Moultrie.
In the evenings, as outreach from the Ellenton Public Health Clinic, the volunteers provided healthcare services to on-site workers at vegetable farms. All donated non-prescription medications were utilized for the creation of a drug formulary by the pharmacy students. All of the medications were organized and each evening they were loaded into a vehicle that transported them to the scheduled farm, via caravan. Upon arrival at the farm, a mobile pharmacy was set up.
The mobile pharmacy had many functions. Inside the mobile unit, data entry personnel typed directions of use in Spanish for prescription order forms. Meanwhile, at the production queue, a student logged each prescription that was sent in, proceeded to fill it, and then labeled them all accordingly. The mobile pharmacy included an examination room located inside where pharmacy students had the opportunity to shadow nurse practitioner students on special cases. Outside the mobile unit, prescription order forms were received and students acted as drug information resources for nurse practitioner students and their faculty. Over-the-counter products were signed out and patients were educated about their use in Spanish. Volunteers worked each night until every patient received their prescription and was counseled on how to use their medication.
This summer the following National Hispanic Pharmacists Association (NHPA)-UGA members participated in the Farm Worker Family Health Program: Nohemi Martinez, Spencer Escoe, Veli Uzunova, Alexis Albert, Dayana Pimentel, Ana McLean, Edith Ford, and Jadon Slaughter. The UGA College of Pharmacy students were precepted by Dr. Trina von Waldner ’86, ’01, who retired in September of 2020, as well as by Emory’s pharmacology professor, Dr. Kenny Mueller, RPh. PharmDawg alumni Courtlynn Fussell ’18, Dillon Frazier ’21, and Raybun Spelts ’16 also assisted with precepting for this service-learning experience.