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Saturday Academy students learn of the myriad career options in pharmacy

Ary Vadipour instructing participants on making chapsticks


Since 1915, the Skaggs family has been deeply rooted in community values. It all began when Sam Skaggs, a minister in the small frontier town of American Falls, Idaho, opened a modest grocery store to support his large family. To compete with existing stores, he implemented a cash-only business model. He offered lower prices by purchasing groceries in bulk, taking advantage of the town's proximity to the Union Pacific Railroad. The Skaggs family laid the foundation for modern retail practices through their entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to customer satisfaction. Their endeavors eventually blossomed into major retail chains like Safeway, Albertsons, Osco, and Longs Drug Stores.

Tanner Roylance talking to students about making suspensions.
Tanner Roylance talking to students about making suspensions.

Today, the Skaggs family legacy lives on through institutions like the L.S. Skaggs Jr. Pharmacy Research Institute, a state-of-the-art facility established in 2013, and the L.S. Skaggs Hall College of Pharmacy, established in 1965, both stand as symbols of excellence in pharmaceutical education and research, and community commitment. The college has been instrumental in various pharmaceutical advancements, including developing Controlled Release Technology (CRT) in the 1970s, revolutionizing drug delivery by enabling controlled medication release over time and enhancing patient outcomes and convenience.

Recently, the L.S. Skaggs College of Pharmacy hosted the Saturday Academy, sponsored by the University of Utah Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (UHEDI). Under the leadership of Heather Nyman, PharmD, and with the participation of 37 volunteers from the College of Pharmacy, including faculty, graduate students, PharmD students, post-doctoral fellows, and staff, 92 students from grades 4-12 engaged in activities aimed at introducing them to various careers in pharmacy and pharmaceutical science. These sessions covered retail pharmacy practices, compounding pharmacy, and over-the-counter medication safety, sparking early interest in pharmaceutical sciences.

Nyman emphasized the significance of the Saturday Academy's relationship with the College of Pharmacy and the health sciences, stating, "I hope that through their experiences with us, they can see themselves in these careers. I think it’s powerful for students to come and see what college looks like—our classrooms, our beautiful Skaggs Pharmacy Institute building, our compounding lab. And I think it was meaningful that the students could interact so closely with our pharmacy and graduate students. Career options that may have been unknown or unlikely may seem more real and reachable when students get to know others training for those careers."

Watching brine shrimp move through the microscope
A volunteer places brine shrimp under a microscope for Saturday Academy participants to watch.

Known for its innovative curriculum, research endeavors, and community involvement, the college continues to attract and prepare future pharmacists for diverse healthcare settings through collaborative partnerships with healthcare institutions and community engagement events like the Saturday Academy.

Nyman highlighted the importance of events such as Saturday Academy because of the lack of visibility of specific pharmacy career paths, noting, "The pharmacy job I have where I work in the hospital with physicians and nurses to manage medications isn’t very visible to people. Those aware of pharmacy as a career option mostly know about the pharmacists working in their local community pharmacies. However, there are so many other career paths for people with a pharmacy degree. And while we don’t have enough time during Saturday Academy to introduce students to the full variety of options within pharmacy, we were able to introduce them to the profession itself."

Through the College of Pharmacy’s commitment to promoting health equity and diversity, ensuring that graduates are prepared to address the evolving needs of patients from all walks of life, the L.S. Skaggs College of Pharmacy continues striving for improving healthcare outcomes both locally and globally, while remaining a beacon of excellence in pharmacy education.

Chris Harris, MBA

Mar 19, 2024 2:31 PM