This year, we have collectively experienced the unfolding of a global public health emergency. As dual degree PharmD and Master of Science in Public Health students, we have had the privilege of partnering with the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists (NCAP) to address an aspect of this crisis we have nearly all heard about: COVID-19 testing. In early May, a student group consisting of myself Kayla Tunehag (P3), Abby Cowan (P2), Tayler Clark (P2), and Emily Steinbock (P2) began to collaborate with an NCAP Testing Work Group of pharmacists and our advisor Dr. William Taylor to develop a resource for pharmacists to help address the problem of inadequate testing.
Pharmacists are one the most accessible health care providers. As such, we sought to equip them to test safely, educate their patients, and ultimately improve the health of their communities. With so much rapidly changing information available, our goal was to create a toolkit as quickly as possible with information specific to North Carolina on how to practically implement testing in a community pharmacy setting. We included overviews and further resources about diagnostic versus serology testing, reimbursement for services, how to adhere to FDA and NC Board of Pharmacy authorizations in our state, and much more.
As students, we were given enormous autonomy to make the Working Group’s vision and priorities come to life. We developed webpages, investigated EUAs and testing complexity, scoured the CDC and FDA websites, and researched everything from immunology to the legality of testing in a pharmacy setting. Along with the direction and input of the pharmacist members of our Work Group, we were able to develop and release our toolkit within one month of beginning the project. Through this project, we witnessed firsthand how our state pharmacy association supports and champions pharmacists to be pillars of their community. We learned a tremendous amount about COVID-19 itself, as well as developed many skills that we will carry on throughout the remainder of our education and future careers. We are so thankful for this opportunity to implement our passion for public health in the field of pharmacy!