Building Stronger, Healthier Rural Communities
Rural pharmacy health scholars give back over 400 hours in community service each year
Story by Kelly Collins | Published September 10, 2022
The demand for pharmacists is often higher in rural communities where access to medical services may be limited by geography, distance, and economic challenges. At the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, we are committed to increasing the number of pharmacists in North Carolina by training pharmacy leaders who are civically engaged and invested in the local community.
Many students on our pharmacy school’s Asheville campus participate in the Rural Pharmacy Health Certificate Program, the only program of its kind in the nation. This specialized curriculum prepares student pharmacists to work in interprofessional health care practices in rural and small communities. We actively recruit promising students from rural backgrounds who are interested in pursuing a service-oriented career.
Over the course of the three-year program, rural health scholars benefit from faculty mentorship, leadership training, and collaborative research opportunities. Through community service and outreach, scholars build relationships with local government, non-profits, safety-net organizations, and public health providers. Rural health scholars give back over 400 hours in community service each year.
Lynn Kieffer, RPh ’77, and her husband Bob established the Kieffer Rural Pharmacy Health Endowment to support priority programs on the Asheville campus. This year, the funding helped support the recognition and celebration of the Class of 2021 Rural Scholars. All four graduates are moving onto residency training serving rural communities. The funding also allowed Stephanie Kiser, RPh ’92, Director of Rural Health, to present at the National Rural Health Association meeting sharing our model and interprofessional successes as well as providing a cultural responsiveness seminar series focused on disparities in our African American, LatinX, Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian, and Appalachian communities.