Community Engagement

Assisting Seniors and Gaining Experience

Randall Gee

Dr. Rajul Patel helps a pharmacy student. Students not only help seniors choose an appropriate medical plan but gain experience with how government health care programs operate.

Rhashad PittmanNov 11, 2011
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In the past five years, Pacific's pharmacy students have helped seniors throughout northern California save more than half a million dollars in prescription drug costs. The students run health fairs where they coach seniors on how to navigate the complex world of getting their prescription drugs through Medicare Part D.

The students' community service is about more than just helping those in need. It's also about giving future pharmacists real-world experience dealing with patients and a highly-intricate government medical program. By running the workshops, student pharmacists will be better prepared for the workforce.

"They get to apply what they've learned to real world situations that are unscripted and involve real people, with an array of medical conditions and financial situations," said Dr. Rajul Patel, the professor who oversees the Medicare Part D health fairs. "It's a huge benefit not only for the senior citizens, but for the students."

Medicare Part D Photo Gallery

Take a look at Pacific's pharmacy students in action during a recent fair at Hutchins Street Square in Lodi, California. more

During the health fairs, Pacific pharmacy students assist Medicare beneficiaries in picking a prescription drug plan that meets their medical needs at the lowest cost possible. The plans are part of Medicare Part D, a supplemental benefit to the widely-used Medicare health insurance program.

The health fairs target underserved communities throughout the Central Valley and Bay Area that consist largely of seniors who are low-income and non-English speaking. This year, pharmacy students held 13 health fairs in Stockton, Lodi, Modesto, San Jose and Palo Alto. Services were provided in Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, Russian and Vietnamese, as well as English.

Last year, Pacific pharmacy students helped 401 Medicare beneficiaries, resulting in out-of-pocket savings of more than $170,000. Of those recipients, 115 seniors were low-income and 80 were assisted in a language other than English.

Since the outreach efforts began in 2007, Pacific pharmacy students have assisted more than 1,000 Medicare recipients and saved an estimated $470,000 in out-of-pocket medication costs.

Learn More
Medicare Part D Outreach Program web site

Feature Story on the Medicare Part D Outreach Program

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about the author

Rhashad Pittman   Rhashad Pittman is the media relations coordinator at Pacific.