Pharmacy professor receives award for innovative educational endeavors

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KINGSTON, R.I. – June 24, 2011 – Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Erica Estus was recently awarded the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists Leadership in Education Award for her work with pharmacy students and older adults.

Estus – who received the award at the society’s conference in Las Vegas in May – titled her project “Students and Older Adults Learning from One Another: Intergenerational Activities Between URI College of Pharmacy and South Bay Retirement Living” and submitted it to the society in a portfolio.

The society review committee members said that the Wakefield resident’s work was beneficial for the students and senior citizens. Estus focuses on geriatrics in her career, emphasizing the importance of bridging generational gaps. She hopes that her Intergenerational Activities program, which attracted many freshmen this year, will help her students create and sustain an interest in cultivating personal relationships with patients.

Estus has become so accustomed to this type of community activity that she forgets that not everyone does it. She stresses that pharmacy is “much more than counting pills.”

The society’s Leadership in Education Award was established in 1994 to honor members’ unique educational methods and accomplishments. The nomination application requires a portfolio of the professor’s educational experience. Estus included in her portfolio letters of support from colleagues, a video clip of a prom that she and her students organized at South Bay Retirement Living, and a cookbook that the students and older adults compiled together, titled Cooking Through the Ages. Besides the physical products that have come from this project, the students regularly visited the seniors and were able to become friends with them, playing Wii Bowling to help improve everyone’s physical and mental health. The students and South Bay residents appreciated the opportunity to teach one another about their different walks of life.

The impact of Estus’ work impressed members of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. An email to Estus from Joe Gerber, educational affairs director of the organization, shared the following comment from a society member:

“I’m impressed with her passion and drive and that is what we need in this upcoming generation of pharmacists. Not only to have the necessary clinical knowledge, but the communication skills, and compassion and caring for older adults to engage them in the process. So often, I see that spark of passion and drive to connect with older adults missing.”

Estus received her bachelor’s and doctor of pharmacy degrees from URI. She is an adjunct faculty member of the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center, which is based at URI, and a member of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. She founded a student chapter of the society at URI, of which she serves as the faculty advisor.

Photo courtesy of Erica Estus