Gen Rx U Spotlight: University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota Generation Rx members present an activity to middle and high school students. (Photo courtesy of Landon Weaver.)

University of Minnesota Generation Rx members present an activity to middle and high school students. (Photo courtesy of Landon Weaver.)

by Landon Weaver

The Generation Rx program has been active for just over a year now in Minnesota.  The University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy operates as one college under two unified yet distinct campuses; one is in urban Minneapolis, and the other is in the more rural city of Duluth. Generation Rx was first implemented on the Duluth campus in the fall of 2013, and student pharmacists enjoyed educating middle and high school students about the very real dangers of prescription drug misuse. Due to the success of Generation Rx on the Duluth campus, the program was implemented on the Twin Cities campus starting in September 2014. Prior to this, the College of Pharmacy used a similar Minnesota-based program known as AWARxE. AWARxE also focused on educating youth on the dangers of prescription drug misuse. However, the program was somewhat limited, as it only provided content for use with middle- and high school-aged students. Aligning with the Generation Rx program on a national level has allowed the College of Pharmacy to raise awareness of the dangers of drug abuse for more individuals in both rural and urban Minnesota communities, particularly in underserved communities. This has allowed students to maximize the impact of this community outreach and public health initiative.

I cannot state how beneficial it was to attend the Generation Rx University Conference [The Higher Education Center’s National Meeting] last August.  I would highly encourage any chapters looking to expand their Generation Rx programs to attend.  Many of the projects we are incorporating came from ideas discussed there.  We have expanded our presentations from primarily being aimed at middle and high school students to now include education initiatives for faculty and staff, and we are hoping to continue this expansion.  Through social media like Twitter and Facebook, we are now raising awareness to those previously out of our geographical reach.  Additionally, plans are in place to donate a medication take back box to a rural area in need.  During one of the sessions at the conference, we learned about the use of rescue naloxone for reversing opioid overdoses by police officers in Ohio.  With inspiration from this discussion, our Minnesota chapter of APhA-ASP created a policy for our midyear regional meeting suggesting a similar stance be taken by the American Pharmacists Association.  All of these ideas have allowed for a growing number of individuals to become involved with Generation Rx at the University of Minnesota.

A new initiative we are excited to announce is our Dodgeball for Drug Misuse Tournament coming up in April.  Generation Rx capitalized on the growing demand for dodgeball on the Duluth campus and coordinated with our APhA-ASP student chapter to coordinate the tournament. Through this exciting event, we will provide an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff to participate in dodgeball while also raising awareness and educating the public about prescription drug misuse.  More information can be found here: http://mnpharmacy.org/ and be sure to follow us on Twitter (@genrxmn)!

005Landon Weaver is the current Generation Rx Coordinator on the University of Minnesota, Duluth, campus.  He also serves as the Worthy Chief Counselor of the Beta Psi chapter of Phi Delta Chi and as secretary for the UM College of Pharmacy student government.

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