School of

On-line Pharmacy Camp Hits the Mark

UMKC School of Pharmacy Camp on-line Zoom meeting

The role of today’s pharmacist extends far beyond the retail store counter. From clinical specialties to research, pharmacy is a fast-expanding field that is providing patient care in a vast array of ways.

That was the clear message presented to more than 50 prospective high school students who participated in the 2020 UMKC Pharmacy Camp on June 26. They heard from and visited with students, alumni and faculty from the UMKC School of Pharmacy in a three-hour virtual camp, held online for the first time as a coronavirus precaution.

The list of speakers included community pharmacists, clinical pharmacists and one of the school’s leading clinical research faculty members.

“The biggest takeaway for the students was just how big pharmacy is,” said Steve McDonald, recruitment and admissions coordinator, who led this year’s camp. “You can be an oncology pharmacist. You can be a pharmacist in other specialties. That’s interesting to them.”

While the pandemic forced this year’s camp to go virtual, meaning campers could not visit the school in person, it also opened up one unexpected benefit — a wider geographic audience. Typically, 90 percent of the students at the UMKC School of Pharmacy are from Missouri or Kansas, and those attending the camp are predominantly from those states as well. With the online format, McDonald and the school’s staff welcomed campers from as far away as California, Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska.

“That was really a pleasant surprise,” McDonald said. “They registered and showed up. That’s was fun to see.”

McDonald said the biggest obstacle with the virtual camp was arranging and promoting it in a way that the students would be interested in being part of a three-hour meeting in front of their computers.

One of the highlights of the camp each year is a chemical compounding section in which the campers get hands-on experience in the school’s compounding lab. To mimic the experience, faculty member Heather Lyons-Burney did a video lecture on compounding from the school’s Brick City building on the Springfield campus. 

When the camp broke up, students split into groups interested in each of the school’s three campuses in Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia. One Columbia faculty member, Lisa Cillessen, even took campers on a virtual walking tour of the MU campus.

McDonald said: “The biggest thing for me is meeting students and talking to them. You don’t just talk to that one student. They talk to their friends. So, the way I look at it, you’re talking to five people at a time.

“I know one guy in Columbia who told me he visited every health camp he could find and said pharmacy camp blew the others away. We ended up having more fun that I thought we would.”
Published: Jul 13, 2020