Students Provide Health Education to In-Need Populations with New Award Funding

Schweitzer Fellows

Halema Buzayan and Karen Tan

Halema Buzayan and Karen Tan have received Schweitzer Fellowships in support of their community outreach.

This year, two USC School of Pharmacy students have been named recipients of the prestigious Los Angeles Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.

Karen Tan and Halema Buzayan are among only 15 students from across the city to receive this honor, and both will be using their funds towards community outreach projects centered meeting needs of specific populations.

The Los Angeles Schweitzer Fellows Program is one of 13 Schweitzer program sites across the U.S. dedicated to developing a pipeline of emerging professionals who enter the workforce with the skills and commitment necessary to address unmet health needs.

Tan, who will be a third-year pharmacy student in the fall, aims to use her funding to promote safe medication usage within the geriatric Chinese population. She will be conducting educational seminars as well as medication reconciliation sessions, where significant medication-related problems will be sent to the senior’s primary care physician. Her advisor on the project is Associate Professor Steven Chen.

“My goals are to improve the quality and safety of the medication therapy for seniors at the APC Senior Wellness Center through medication reconciliation and communication with primary care physicians, and to empower seniors to take control of their health through seminars on chronic diseases and appropriate medication use,” says Tan.

Tan already has some experience organizing health education seminars and partaking in medication reconciliation sessions through her past volunteer work.

“As the co-director of SHARE (Students Helping and Receiving Education), I was responsible for coordinating student volunteers for QueensCare Family Clinics, where students were able to shadow ambulatory care pharmacists as well as perform medication reconciliation,” she explains. “My co-director and I also taught health education classes at these clinics covering topics such as medication safety and immunizations.”

Tan ultimately hopes to become an ambulatory care pharmacist.

Halema Buzayan, a fourth-year pharmacy student, is using her fellowship funds towards a project to increase awareness and minimize the risk of osteoporosis in Muslim American women. Chen also serves as her advisor on the project.

“I will be conducting osteoporosis workshops and one-on-one counseling sessions with members of the Islamic Center of Irvine, the community site I have partnered with,” she says. “In doing this project, I will be utilizing my previous experiences screening and counseling health fair participants on osteoporosis.”

Ultimately, Buzayan hopes to pursue a career in community pharmacy.

Seven of the area’s 15 2014 Schweitzer Fellows are in programs at USC.