The communal need for pharmacists may be more evident than ever before, as the pandemic highlighted their role in strengthening public health. Pharmacy foundations have always seen their worth and are eager to further their work. Foundations are supporting pharmacy education to help realize practice transformation. They are validating student pharmacists and backing them with financial support. And they are providing practicing pharmacists with tools to help them advance the profession. With all the advances in science and all the support waiting in the wings, one thing is clear: it’s an exciting time to be in pharmacy.
The American Foundation of Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE) strives to support pharmacy education and research in schools and colleges of pharmacy across the country. President Ellen Woods saw the value of pharmacists in her past profession, raising money for hospital foundations and specific diseases. “I worked on a lot of projects with pharmacists, developing collaborative relationships with them, dealing with specific diseases, and I saw that they were the answer to a lot of pressing public and patient health issues. That’s what drew me to the profession,” Woods said. “I see more value in them than I think, at times, they see in themselves.”
AFPE provides predoctoral fellowships in pharmaceutical sciences, with some that are more specific supporting research in pharmaceutics, and one that is narrower, focused on parenteral drugs. Another noteworthy award recognizes a student focused on reducing healthcare disparities and improving health outcomes for underserved populations, possibly researching sickle-cell anemia, asthma, maternal and infant mortality or access to medication. An award rooted in clinical pharmacy (that is a collaboration with ASHP Foundation) recognizes a researcher working toward improving health outcomes in hospitals and ambulatory care settings.
“One of our awards that I find interesting is our Gateway to Research award. It’s for Pharm.D.s and it is a mentored research project that’s meant to do two things: One, they see whether they have an aptitude and interest to go on and get a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences and do research. The other wonderful benefit of it is, when they go into the workplace, especially in clinical settings with interdisciplinary teams, they need to understand research, they need to be able to interpret it, help patients interpret it, help caregivers interpret it, and work with other team members who rely heavily on research,” Woods said. “We have done post-interviews with people who received these awards 10 to 15 years ago, and they found them very valuable, even if they didn’t go on to pursue a Ph.D. in research. So it’s a great award and a great experience.”
Collaborating with honor societies such as Phi Lambda Sigma, Kappa Epsilon and Rho Chi, AFPE helps fund applicants for the first year of pharmacy school. The foundation also honors faculty with a Mentor of the Year award, interviewing current and former students to speak to the value of their mentorship.