April 8, 2013
By Lauren McMillin
Pharmacists can play a major role in educating the public about health care issues, a concept that University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy students often learn and practice. Embracing this concept, Emily Carrell of West Salem, Wis., is creating a series of community discussions on health issues.
Free and open to the public, the Community Health Café series is begins Thursday, April 11, from 6-7 p.m. at Oxford’s Lusa Café. The series provides an opportunity for community members to learn about and discuss health issues in a relaxed environment.
Carrell, who is in her second professional year of pharmacy school, (PY2) found inspiration for the Health Café from the Oxford Science Café, a local monthly meeting about science.
“The idea came about while talking with friends after one of the Science Café meetings,” Carrell said. “We thought, why can’t we extend this to health care? This is a way to address the public’s health concerns in a friendly atmosphere.”
Like the Science Café, Health Café discussions will be held monthly and are tentatively scheduled for the second Thursday of each month.
“Each event will start with a presentation and follow with a short Q&A and discussion,” Carrell said. “The event should not take longer than an hour. Refreshments for the kickoff event will be provided by the student section of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. We aim to provide coffee or tea, and some delicious Lusa pastries for approximately 30 attendees.”
Topics will vary from month to month. The first Health Café, presented by PY2 students Laney Owings of Columbus and Kayla Creel of Byrum, is titled “Heart-to-Heart: Advice on Heart Health from Pharmacy Students.”
Pharmacists need to take responsibility in educating the general public about heart health, Carrell said.
“People have questions about health conditions and are afraid to ask them,” she said. “As health care professionals, we should reach out and answer these questions. My hope is that the more people are educated about their health status, the more they will take charge of their own health.”
All Health Cafés will be presented in language that people outside of the pharmacy and other health professions can understand.
“We aim to make our presentations appropriate for the general public,” Carrell said. “We want to educate and inform all ages about their health. I hope that people will have their questions answered and be empowered to take control of their own health.”