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Pharmacy student receives Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award

Apr 7, 2016

Ohio Northern University student William “Blake” Hays, a sixth-year pharmacy major from Cincinnati, Ohio, has been awarded the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award for his dedication to the public. He will formally receive the award at the University’s Honors Day on April 23, 2016.

This marks the second consecutive year that an Ohio Northern pharmacy student has received this award, which recognizes pharmacy students who have demonstrated a commitment to public health and public health practice and have who gone outside the classroom to develop and bring care to patients in their community.

Rear Adm. Pamela Schweitzer, U.S. assistant surgeon general, and the pharmacists of the USPHS established the Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award to encourage pharmacy students to become active in public health. The award consists of a certificate plaque, the book “Plagues and Politics: The Story of the United States Public Health Service,” and a letter signed by Schweitzer.

Dr. Karen Kier, ONU professor of pharmacy practice, nominated Hays for his work and leadership in designing and implementing a skin-screening and educational-outreach program to promote proper skin care. Hays’ objective was to screen patients and educate them on the specific risks of sun damage as well as proper prevention strategies to limit damage and, in turn, decrease the incidence of skin cancer.

Since the program’s start, 65 percent of Ohio Northern employees have been screened, 43 percent were referred to dermatologists, and six individuals were diagnosed with skin cancer and referred for treatment. Based on the success of the employee program, Hays took the program out into the community through three community pharmacies. In addition, the program has been adopted for use by pharmacists in Washington, California, Florida and North Carolina, and Hays presented his findings at two national pharmacy meetings.

“This award recognizes the excellence and commitment of Mr. Hays to improve public health and provide innovative services to patients,” said Kier. “The award reflects positively on the many students and faculty who advance the public health mission of our college. We are very proud of him.”