Harlem Word: Dr. Rabia Tahir tells us about Touro College of Pharmacy’s involvement in Harlem

Editor June 10th, 2010

Dr. Rabia Tahir, Pharm.D, pharmacist and professor at Touro College of Pharmacy, talks about how students use what they learn in the classroom when working within the Harlem community.

Q: What skills does Touro teach to its students?

A: Touro is really big on teaching students three things throughout their pharmacy education: communication, teamwork and leadership. It is key for them to know how to communicate with other health professionals and with people they serve in a pharmacy and how to productively work in teams.  Throughout their education at Touro, the students work in teams to gain skills in interacting with other people, especially providing information and counseling to patients. Pharmacy is not a solo profession-the majority of pharmacists don't work alone, especially at retail pharmacies (CVS, Duane Reade, etc.) in Harlem.  Sometimes, they are supervisors so they need the leadership skills.  Touro's goal is to work on these skills so that our pharmacy students will use them in their practice experiences (internships) at Harlem sites and in their future careers.  We want them to apply the skills they learn here to real-world experiences.  They need to learn these skills because they are essential to practice pharmacy productively throughout their lives.  The skills will help them provide patient education and counseling, not just give medications to patients.

Q: How do the students use what they learn at Touro in the Harlem community?

A: The program focuses on combining classroom activity with community service. Since Touro is based in Harlem its goal is to serve the people who live in the community. In our classes we talk about issues that are of special importance to this community, such as health literacy and certain diseases in Harlem. We teach the students about many diseases and explain how they affect Harlem residents.  For example, we educate them HIV/AIDS, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and asthma because many Harlem residents are dealing with these health issues.  The students are then prepared to counsel and educate patients in Harlem community on these diseases.

For their "Practice Experience," or internships, our students work at public health sites throughout Harlem.  This is when they link what is learned in the classroom to real life.  We have students all across the Harlem community at public health sites including HHPC, the American Heart Association, West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT), and more.  It's really nice to hear what the students have to say about their internship/practicum sites.  They talk about being able to use what Touro taught them in more of a real life setting.  The sites make them more aware of public health issues, like health inequalities and health literacy.  I have to say, it just broadens their whole view of what being a pharmacist is about. We really want to prepare our students to become aware of any community's issues before they work there so they can better assist the community members.

Read more from Dr. Tahir by clicking the links below:

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