TCOP Visits Hyde Leadership Charter School Academy

Pharmacy Students Teach Seventh Graders About Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

March 12, 2017
TCOP students visited Hyde Leadership Charter School Academy in the Bronx to talk with three seventh grade classes about the perils of prescription drug abuse.

Monique Scott, a second-year pharmacy student at Touro’s College of Pharmacy (TCOP), stood in front of a whiteboard. Before her twenty-five seventh graders squirmed in their seats.

“Prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs. How many of you think that’s true?” she asked.

A handful of hands jumped into the air. Scott, 28, reversed the question and another smattering of hands shot up. Scott said that the answer was false and that while prescription drugs were legal, “you can’t share them with your friends.”

“Getting high on legal drugs is just as bad as getting high on illegal drugs,” said Scott.

Scott was one of fourteen TCOP students that journeyed on March 2 to the Hyde Leadership Charter School Academy in the Bronx to deliver a presentation on the danger of the misuse of prescription drugs. Once there, the students split up into three groups to deliver the presentations to three different classes. The visit was especially meaningful for Scott who said she grew up “a few exits away.”

“It’s a great way to give back to my community,” Scott explained. 

The visit was an initiative of the Pharmacists for Public Health (PPH) a student-led group that meets twice a month to find out ways to provide public health service to local communities, and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

“This ties into Touro’s mission of helping the underserved,” said Dr. Ronnie Moore, Assistant Dean of Clinical affairs at TCOP, who visited the school alongside Dr. Dipan Ray, TCOP’s Director of Practice Experience. “Having our students come out from the classroom and utilize the information that they’re learning to help the community is woven into who we are as a school.”

Two other TCOP faculty members, Dr. Maria Sorbera and Dr. Michelle Friedman, also accompanied the students.

According to Eva Rubinoff, school counselor at the Hyde Leadership Charter School, the school boasts an impressive 93 percent high school graduation rate. She saw a twofold purpose to the visit by TCOP students: to educate her students about the perils of prescription drug abuse, and also to provide them with role-models in the pharmacy industry.

During the presentation, the TCOP students discussed some of the side effects and dangers of medications like benzodiazepines (“What does it mean, feeling like your head is disconnected?” a student asked) and the danger of mixing prescription drugs with alcohol. TCOP students also shared stories of families that had been torn apart by prescription drug abuse.

Second year TCOP student Vincent Tran explained that they had chosen to speak to seventh graders since they were on the cusp of their teenage years, but not quite there yet.

“Even at this age, you hear about drugs,” said Tran, “But you might not be experimenting with them yet. If we do this now, we might stop the abusive behaviors in the future. Awareness is the key.”

The seventh graders were asked to fill out surveys before and after the lecture to gauge their understanding of prescription drug abuse. The TCOP presenters also spoke about their responsibilities as pharmacists and concluded the presentation with a roleplay segment about how to avoid prescription drug abuse.

“I learned that prescription drugs can be worse than illegal ones,” said charter school student Jonathan Robles.

“I never knew that there were these types of things that could actually kill you,” added fellow student Christian Deleon.

As the presentation drew to a close, one cheeky student popped his hand up and asked whether the pharmacy students had ever used prescription drugs improperly. “I wanted to make sure they’re not using drugs,” said the boy, who only gave his name, Ibraham, as the bell rang and he hurried to his next class.