From East Texas to Austin
Pharmacy Student Advocates for Change at the Capitol
Publication Date: 10/30/2019
Students have the opportunity to enhance their collegiate experience at the University by participating in advocacy endeavors that they are passionate about. Huyen Nguyen of Tyler made the most of that opportunity this year.
She was one of thousands of Texas pharmacy students who came together and spoke to state legislators in Austin during “Pharmacy Day at the Capitol” to help add new laws that positively affect both pharmacists and patients.
A third year (P3) student in the Fisch College of Pharmacy, Nguyen realized she wanted to help people since she was a child.
“Knowing that I could combine science, healthcare and being of service to others is what makes me passionate about becoming a pharmacist,” Nguyen said. “Many political and business practices involved in the pharmacy profession restricted what pharmacists can do to help patients by limiting time and determining priorities.
“It was frustrating as a student to try to envision my future and to see present pharmacists who care and only want to help being prevented by many barriers from being able to truly accomplish that. It was an honor to represent UT Tyler.”
One bill she said she is particularly proud of that passed during the 86th Texas Legislative Session is regarding new Collaborative Practice Agreements (CPAs).
“A CPA is a contract between a physician and pharmacist that allows the physician to delegate some of their abilities and duties to an appropriately trained pharmacist. This means that a pharmacist has the ability, under a physician, to modify or implement a patient’s drug therapy,” Nguyen said.
“For example, if a patient is on a particular medication in a specific class of medications, and they are experiencing problems with it, instead of calling the doctor, most of which are extremely busy, to suggest a change, the pharmacist would be allowed to simply make the change for the patient, allowing for more effective and expedited patient care,” she said.
Nguyen said another notable victory was being able to prevent a bill from passing that would have allowed physicians to dispense medications directly from their office, without being held under the same rules and regulations that each pharmacy does.
“This one is about patient safety,” she said. “We are the drug experts, and if someone else can dispense medications without the same quality control practices and guidelines that we are held to, then that puts the patient at a greater risk for harm.”
The former University’s Texas Pharmacy Association student chapter president will graduate from UT Tyler with a Pharm.D. in May 2021. After working a few years as a pharmacist, she hopes to enroll into medical school to become a family practitioner and collaborate with Doctors without Borders.