Tactical Dialogue A Key to Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy

2021-10-13T12:15:20-05:00October 7th, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Student pharmacists, community pharmacies can reach rural areas

2021 has brought some unique challenges to the field of pharmacy that student pharmacists must be equipped to handle, for example, the ongoing debate about vaccination. The coronavirus pandemic has affected the entire world, and one factor that has changed the course of the pandemic is the emergence of vaccines effective against COVID-19.

Jovita Huynh is an October ACA intern.

The rapid deployment of these vaccines has been instrumental in reducing the number of COVID-19 transmissions. Over 401 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered since December 2020, a heartening number.

However, there are still some struggles in achieving higher vaccination rates in parts of the country. As of October 11th, 2021, 65.3% of the total population in the United States has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but some states such as West Virginia are lagging behind, with only 48.5% of their total population receiving one dose (1). Unsurprisingly, these areas tend to correlate with a higher percentage of people who are vaccine hesitant (2).

One of the most accessible places to receive a COVID-19 vaccine has been the common community pharmacy. Community pharmacies are widespread and in many locations around the country, even in rural areas that may have more limited healthcare access.

This makes the pharmacist, and by proxy, the student pharmacist, an important provider of COVID-19 vaccines and COVID-19 vaccination information. Therefore, encountering vaccine hesitancy as a student pharmacist is not unusual, and it can often be a stressful conversation if the student does not feel confident in their clinical knowledge.

Although I’m still a student myself, I have found a few techniques to be helpful when discussing vaccinations with patients. Like so many other facets of healthcare, I believe that addressing vaccination hesitancy starts with a question: If a patient expresses concern about receiving a vaccine, we should ask why they have concerns about the vaccine.

“Encountering vaccine hesitancy as a student pharmacist is not unusual, and it can often be a stressful conversation if the student does not feel confident in their clinical knowledge.”

It can be difficult to approach the conversation if the patient is belligerent, but I think helping the patient explore their hesitation helps a lot in developing a trusting relationship between the pharmacist and the patient. Engaging the patient in a conversation encourages the patient to express their concerns, and also enables the pharmacist to individualize their response.

When trying to tailor COVID-19 information to a specific audience, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers useful tips (3). The first step is always trying to understand your audience, and to that end, there are three things you should learn about them.

Most importantly, you should gauge their understanding, perceptions, beliefs, motivations, and barriers related to COVID-19 vaccines. Asking questions like, “What do you know about the risks of COVID-19?” or, “What would motivate you to get vaccinated?” can help a pharmacist assess where to steer the conversation next.

However, there are other factors to consider, so you should also try to find out about their communication preferences. Is there a language barrier, or would they prefer to receive information online or through print?

Finally, their socio-cultural context – do they have access to healthcare? How common is vaccination where they live?

These questions will help you develop an understanding of why a person may be reluctant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as well as identify why someone might want the vaccine. Reinforcing motivation while countering hesitancy should be the main theme of the conversation.

In addition, addressing misinformation may be an important part of your discussion with your patient. One important technique the CDC mentions for combating misinformation may be trying to use trusted messengers in order to boost credibility.

Some people may find it difficult to trust public health officials or may not have access to the CDC websites. In these cases, it may be effective to partner with trusted community organizations or religious leaders to address misinformation (4).

One important thing to keep in mind is that although vaccination may be the overall end goal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to happen immediately.

For some of our patients who may be a tougher sell, just starting the discussion to give them food for thought can still be a successful counseling session. Not everyone will be receptive to a vaccine immediately and trying to reinforce the importance of the vaccine over several visits may be necessary.


  1. Carlsen, A., Huang, P., Levitt, Z., & Wood, D. (2021, October 11). How is the COVID-19 vaccination campaign going in your state? Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/01/28/960901166/how-is-the-covid-19-vaccination-campaign-going-in-your-state.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Vaccine hesitancy for covid-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://data.cdc.gov/stories/s/Vaccine-Hesitancy-for-COVID-19/cnd2-a6zw/.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, July 28). How to tailor covid-19 information to your specific audience. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/hcp/tailoring-information.html.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, September 4). How to address COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/health-departments/addressing-vaccine-misinformation.html


Jovita Huynh is a P4 student at Shenandoah University and an October ACA intern conducting an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE)  focused in Association Management.


Personal support a remedy for burnout: student pharmacist probes a common challenge

Pharmacy school can be a tough road, but we have chosen this path because we believe that this is a fulfilling career where we can positively impact our community. In between all of the exams, extracurricular activities, and other stressors, it can be easy to lose sight of the end goal. I am currently completing my last year of pharmacy school and in reflection of my

Jovita Huynh is the ACA intern during October focusing on Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) in Association Management.

journey through the didactic curriculum, I would like to discuss burnout, a pitfall that may affect many students, and two preventative strategies that I feel have served me well.

Burnout syndrome has been described by Dr. Christina Maslach as “a syndrome of emotional exhaustion and cynicism that occurs frequently among individuals who do people-work of some kind” (1). In May 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement recognizing burnout as an occupational phenomenon and included it into the International Classification of Diseases, 11th revision (ICD-11. The WHO definition of burnout mostly relates to the feelings of displeasure with one’s job, overall fatigue, and consequent reduced efficacy in the workplace (2).

So how do we recognize burnout, and who is at highest risk for it? Two well known contributors to burnout are emotional exhaustion and disengagement. Emotional exhaustion is characterized by a state of mental fatigue caused by factors such as constant stress and emotionally demanding work, while disengagement is a lack of connection or concern for the contents of one’s work. In 2020, Fuller et al analyzed information from an anonymous online survey administered to students enrolled in a pharmacy school in Kentucky. Surprisingly, they did not find much correlation between burnout scores and student’s postgraduate goals, extracurricular involvement and work responsibilities. This apparent lack of clear risk factors may make dealing with the problem of burnout more difficult. However, they did find that married students tended to report being less exhausted than unmarried students, hinting at a possible solution (2).

“Small study groups were a great way to focus on studying, as the added accountability prevented me from getting distracted.”

If burnout is such a problem, then what are some possible solutions? An analysis of reflective essays written by pharmacy students in 2020 by Babal et al showed that strong social connections may help reduce stress and burnout. A common theme among many of the submitted reflections was the strong psychological support provided by pharmacy school friendships. These friendships were developed through shared understanding of the challenges of pharmacy school, and created a sense of belonging and camaraderie (3). Additionally, the previously mentioned survey by Fuller et al showed that marital status may be predictive of lower burnout scores, further reinforcing the idea that relationships and connectedness may help prevent and reduce burnout.

Anecdotally, I do feel that the friendships I made throughout pharmacy school were important in helping me reduce stress and also in learning pharmacotherapy. Small study groups were a great way to focus on studying, as the added accountability prevented me from getting distracted. I even have some nostalgia for the stressful nights before an exam when the study rooms were crammed full of students doing last minute reviews, because the air was so thick with esprit de corps and shared connectedness. For any health professions student, including pharmacy, I highly recommend trying to form a study group for all the benefits they may bring.

Another possible solution could be something as simple as taking some time to explore nature. A systematic review in 2018 by Houlden et al found that interaction with nature and green spaces had strong positive associations with hedonic well being. Hedonic well being is a facet of mental wellbeing composed mostly of happiness and life satisfaction (4). Although this review did not look at burnout in particular, this simple intervention may be readily implemented by students. Personally, I found that trying to take some time to go hiking with friends on the weekends greatly improved my wellbeing and mood, serving as a mental reset and allowing me to throw myself into my studies once more.

Burnout is a problem that many pharmacy students may face during our challenging curriculum but there are some accessible and easy strategies that we can implement to mitigate the impact burnout can have.


  1. Maslach C, Jackson SE. The measurement of experienced burnout. J Organ Behav. 1981; 2:99
  2. Fuller M, Schadler A, Cain J. An Investigation of Prevalence and Predictors of Disengagement and Exhaustion in Pharmacy Students. Am J Pharm Educ. 2020;84(10):ajpe7945. doi:10.5688/ajpe7945
  3. Babal JC, Abraham O, Webber S, et al. Student Pharmacist Perspectives on Factors That Influence Wellbeing During Pharmacy School. Am J Pharm Educ. 2020;84(9):ajpe7831. doi:10.5688/ajpe7831
  4. Houlden V, Weich S, Porto de Albuquerque J, et al. The relationship between greenspace and the mental wellbeing of adults: A systematic review. PLoS One. 2018;13(9):e0203000. Published 2018 Sep 12. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0203000


Jovita Huynh is a P4 student at Shenandoah University and an October ACA intern conducting an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE)  focused in Association Management.

ACA student intern who immigrated to U.S. rises from humble upbringing

2021-09-23T09:20:22-05:00September 3rd, 2021|Categories: Cultural Diversity, Pharmacist Training, Uncategorized|

Full Circle: Inadequate Health Care Maps A Return to My Homeland

A little about the country where I was born before migrating to the United States. I was born in Accra, which is the capital city of Ghana. Although I came to the U.S. at a young age, I can recall several things I learned from my early school days and family.

Ghana, located in the western part of Africa, was the first place the sub-Saharan trade occurred. It was where Europeans arrived to trade – first in gold and later in slaves. Ghana was formerly called Gold Coast. It was also the first Black, African nation in the region to achieve its independence from the British in 1957. Ghana is a multilingual country constituted of about 80 languages or more spoken by the local people.

“The lack of clinic accessibility that I witnessed during my younger years living in Ghana ignited a burning desire to do something about these issues when I started my journey in the medical field.”

But English, which was from the Colonial period, became the official language. And of the languages indigenous to Ghana, Akan (Ashanti) is the most widely spoken. Ghana is the world’s second-largest cocoa producer behind Ivory Coast and Africa’s biggest gold miner after South Africa. Also, Ghana has become one of the continent’s fastest-growing economies and has made major progress in the attainment and consolidation of growth.   

Significant progress has been made in poverty reduction. Ghana is the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa, to achieve the Millennium Development Goal-1, which is the target of halving extreme poverty. Ghana has recently become a middle-income country. The discovery of offshore oil reserves was announced in June 2007, encouraging a crucial economic increase.

Some of the challenges Ghana faces that I can recall or are still going on in the country is their healthcare system ineffectiveness, combating malaria, and healthcare disparities between the wealthy and the poor. Malaria remains a public health concern as it is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Ghana.

There are rural‐urban disparities in health care services that contribute to poor healthcare outcomes. Poor people are prone to die immediately after contracting an illness due to a lack of healthcare access and money.

The challenges that Ghanaians face daily in the country were one of the reasons why I joined the healthcare field to become a pharmacist. The knowledge that I plan to acquire from practicing as a future pharmacist would enable me to help devote myself to fighting against malaria, healthcare disparities, and the lack of healthcare access in Ghana.

Although I have not been back to Ghana since I came to the United States, I have been following what is going on in Ghana through the news, family members, and social media. That way, I am current with things going on in the country.

During my few years in Ghana, I remember when I was a child, I was always sick due to malaria. But since there wasn’t any clinic in proximity from our house, my parents had to drive about an hour and a half to another town where the only clinic available in that region was.

Most times, we would spend the entire day or hours before been seen by a physician. And other times, the clinic would be so packed and busy that we had no choice but to go home without been attended to by a nurse or a physician.

Usually, when this happens which was very frequent, my family would return me back home only to be treated with herbal medications made by family members.

The lack of clinic accessibility that I witnessed during my younger years living in Ghana ignited a burning desire to do something about these issues when I started my journey in the medical field. After completing my pharmacy education, I would like to go back to Ghana and contribute to improving the healthcare system.

I plan to establish mini-clinics all across the regions in the country, especially in areas where the majority of the citizens are unable to afford to go to the clinic when sick. I also plan on working with the department of health in Ghana to push and establish legislations which would improve the distribution of medications and other essential health items which may help reduce the overall well-being of individuals.

It has always been a dream of mine to improve the healthcare system not only in Ghana, but other parts in Africa where my services and dedication are warranted.

Emmanuel Duah, a P4 student pharmacist at Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy in Virginia, is the associate rotation management intern in September at ACA.

My Game Plan: Where Drugs Intersect in an Athlete’s Recovery

Before applying to pharmacy school, I was uncertain about what I wanted to contribute to the healthcare field. But I had a passion for sports and wanted to work in that area in the future.

Therefore, I decided to volunteer at a physical therapy sports and rehabilitation clinic. While there, I was able to gain some knowledge on how

Emmanuel Duah is the ACA associate rotation management intern during September.

therapists manage and treat an array of muscle and joint pains in patients, especially amongst athletes.

I also volunteered and shadowed some medical doctors working at the emergency department at a hospital. While there, I was able to experience the working environment and expectations as a physician.

These experiences were keys to shaping my future. They directed my attention to medication use in patients. I became fascinated by how these drugs exert their mechanisms of action in the body to make people feel better.

With this ambition in mind, I decided to enroll in school. After getting accepted at a local college, I decided to take prerequisite core science classes such as organic chemistry, physics, biology at a community college while obtaining an associate degree in exercise science. I continued my education at Salisbury University where I was able to also obtain a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a minor in health.

I started a dual pharmacy program in 2018 with the possibility of achieving a doctorate degree and a master’s degree in pharmacogenomics, though I did not know what to expect since I had little to no exposure to the field, I was very excited about the opportunity at hand. Although I had little knowledge going into pharmacy, the journey of the pharmacy program was fascinating yet tedious, with sleepless nights, failing exams, questioning myself if I’ve made the right decision of becoming a pharmacist.

But looking back as I am in my final year of pharmacy, I can attest that it was a great experience. But most importantly, achieving the goal of knowing how medications prescribed to patients work.

After I graduate from pharmacy school, I would like to continue my education by completing a residency and specialize in ambulatory care pharmacy practice where I would be able to work directly with patients in outpatient settings. My ultimate goal is to have my own independent pharmacy clinic gearing toward athletes, chronic disease management and patients who are not able to exercise without the presence of healthcare personnel.

Athletics provided outlet, then career goals for pharmacy student

ACA student intern who immigrated to U.S. rises from humble upbringing

Emmanuel Duah moved to the U.S. from Ghana at 10-years old.

A fourth-year pharmacy student at Shenandoah University, my route into the field of studying pharmacy undertook a winding, unconventional route from … soccer fields. Originally from Ghana, West Africa, I moved to the U.S. at a young age and acclimated to my new country in the projects of Riverdale, Maryland.

Growing up in a single-parent household was very hard, and particularly so for the fact that my mom confronted having to navigate a foreign land, gaining employment and providing enough food for the household. Such challenges made it uncommon for my family to remain settled in any one apartment for very long, prompting moving from place to place a routine.

In this environment, I often interacted with people involved in gangs and selling drugs on the streets. But through my faith in God and my mother’s devoted prayers, I circumvented these surrounding trappings by focusing on and enjoying athletics during by teenage years.

Through sports, I discovered a safe haven from what was happening around me. In high school I was ranked as one of the best soccer players in the entire DMV area (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) and was offered a couple of scholarships to attend college.

The pursuit of playing professional soccer, in circumspect, was the lone vehicle I believed could help me potentially assist my mother financially. My interest pivoted to the medical field, though, when my hopes and dreams of becoming a pro athlete closed. With a dim prospect of securing a “good job” as high school ended, I chose to focus harder on education so I would be able one day apply this knowledge toward my first love, athletics.

Emmanuel Duah, a former high school soccer standout, plans to apply his pharmacy education towards sports medicine.

Although there isn’t a discipline in pharmacy dedicated specifically to athletes or sports, I am hoping to discover, improve and perhaps innovate on this area as a future pharmacist. Athletes, often prone to injuries, are generally prescribed medications such as narcotics to ease their pain during recovery, and this application can be better studied and refined.

My goal to become a future pharmacist is to work with injured athletes and to prevent unintended side effects, drug abuse, drug-drug interactions, sub-therapeutic, and prevent the progression of their ailment. Instead, I want to help them return to competing not just quickly, but appropriately and safely.

By the time I graduate from pharmacy school I will have earned four higher educational degrees. I will be proud of this accomplishment and am looking forward to a point in my future career where my training and passion for sports converge.

As I reflect upon landing solo at Logan International Airport in Boston as a child and then adjusting to culture on a different continent, I see how the long journey with many trials and tribulations helped toughen me. To reach my fullest professional potential, I will continue to rely on prayers, academic discipline, and perseverance from not taking no for an answer, as well as a drive to constantly prove myself.

Emmanuel Duah, a P4 student pharmacist at Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy in Virginia, is the associate rotation management intern in September at ACA.

Become a Ready Reserve Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service

2021-01-26T13:48:26-06:00January 26th, 2021|Categories: Public/Community Health, Uncategorized|Tags: |

Become a Ready Reserve Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service

The Ready Reserve Corps offers a unique opportunity for its officers to serve their local community as well as their country in times of public health emergencies or in underserved areas. This is an excellent opportunity for pharmacist graduates who are interested in public service but are not able to commit to be a full-time officer.

National Pharmacy Organizations Unite to Take a Stand Against Racial Injustice

2020-06-08T12:05:41-05:00June 5th, 2020|Categories: News Release, Uncategorized|

June 5, 2020

Today, the American College of Apothecaries and other national pharmacy organizations published a Joint Statement to Condemn Racial Injustice and Discrimination.

As a response to recent events highlighting the deep-rooted injustices resulting from systematic racism, we join our fellow organizations in pledging to engage in intentional dialogue and action to advocate against prejudice and discrimination.

Go to Top