Twenty-Five Years of CAPS

The popular student organization celebrates its successes and plans for a bright future

Story by Ryan McDaniel & Brooks Daref | Published June 20, 2023

Large group of students standing in front of projection screens

In the 2022-2023 academic year, the Carolina Association of Pharmacy Students (CAPS) hosted nearly 130 events – an astounding average of three events every week of the academic year. This relentless pace is nothing new for CAPS as the organization marks its 25th anniversary this year.

CAPS started in 1998 as an effort to bring together three student organizations under one umbrella; American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP), American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), and North Carolina Association of Pharmacists (NCAP).

By joining CAPS, students become members of all three organizations. APhA-ASP backs CAPS’ patient-care projects and provides access to the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation and the Student Political Advocacy Network. ASHP represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, HMOs, long-term care, and home care. NCAP focuses on uniting, serving, and advancing the pharmacy profession in North Carolina.

Macary Marciniak, Class of 2000 alumna and Associate Professor, helped to create the group 25 years ago when she herself was a student at the School. After graduating, Macary went on to a residency and then served as faculty at Albany College of Pharmacy.

When Macary returned to the School in 2008, CAPS was accomplishing great things but not broadcasting those successes, she says. Macary reorganized the group to improve operations and spread the word. And she encouraged the association to focus on its mission: serve student pharmacists by fostering professional development, providing direct patient-care opportunities, and promoting awareness of the pharmacy profession.

Macary is now the CAPS faculty advisor, along with Assistant Professor Kathryn Fuller, PharmD ’15, and Professor of the Practice Stephanie Kiser, who advises CAPS at the Asheville Campus.

CAPS boasts a membership of 170 students with 16 executive leadership positions and an additional 35 PY2/PY3 leadership positions. The chapter was awarded the Chapter Policy and Legislative Award for 2021-2022 and the Operation Diabetes 2021-2022 Second Runner-Up Award.

“CAPS prides itself on being an organization that encourages all members to explore various avenues that may interest them to not only produce well-rounded pharmacist, but to also allow students to find their own professional and personal niche,” says CAPS Executive President, Roxy Vassighi. “As a member of CAPS, you have access to copious amounts of residency and industry resources, hands-on patient care practice experiences, professional development workshops, pharmacy legislative and policy impacts, and most importantly, members become part of a tight knit community/network of friends and mentors there to support each other.”

A few of those hands-on patient care practice experiences recently included Carrboro Farmers’ Market Blood Pressure & Blood Glucose Screening and Education, OTC Med Safety Counseling at Give Kids a Smile, Operation Self Care, and Operation Immunization.

During Operation Immunization, student pharmacists volunteered to administer flu and COVID-19 vaccines across campus. Vaccine clinics were held throughout the fall semester to provide students the opportunity to practice their vaccination technique under the supervision of a pharmacist as well as practice patient counseling. During the operation, over 900 patients were vaccinated.

Looking ahead, CAPS will continue providing students with myriad events and opportunities in the 2023-2024 academic year that will no doubt impact patient care in the local community. Roxy is excited to be leading the organization as it celebrates its 25th year at the School. She notes, “The best part of being a member of CAPS is having access to a wide breath of opportunities to explore and learn about the different fields of pharmacy that makes this profession so versatile and impactful.”