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WSU pharmacy students training to fill rural health care gap

A donation to WSU's College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences will increase opportunities for PharmD students to focus on the health care needs of residents in rural Washington (photo by Cori Kogan).

The Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has accepted five students into the rural health track. These first-year students will be the inaugural class in the track and will undergo specialized training and education in rural health care. Upon their graduation in 2025, they will be equipped with the skills, tools, and network needed to work in a rural setting.

This initiative was launched thanks to a $2.2 million gift to Washington State University’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) by an anonymous donor, which will increase opportunities for PharmD students to focus on the health care needs of residents in rural Washington.

“We look forward to working with this small group of talented students. Health care providers in rural areas face a unique set of challenges. This includes advising patients on how to access care if they don’t have phone or internet services, or if the nearest health facility is a two-hour drive,” said Angela Stewart, associate dean of the Rural Health Initiative. “Pharmacists are often the first line of care for many rural communities, and we want to arm these students with the knowledge and skills for when they return back to a rural community.”

Along with their current coursework building on the fundamentals of pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, these students will also learn about the demographics, ethnicity, and employment of the diverse populations they will serve. Their rotations in a rural setting will give them knowledge of working with physicians, nurses, and other care providers in various rural settings. This includes rural hospital systems such as critical access hospitals (CAH) with 4 to 20 beds which provide limited inpatient and outpatient care, as well as community pharmacies. Students will also learn how to advise patients on ordering medications as well as how to access pharmacy services after hours.

Learn more about the inaugural class and their backgrounds, upbringing, and inspiration to work in rural health on the College of Pharmacy website.

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