Students can be a valuable addition to the charitable pharmacy team. With students performing pharmacy tasks, staff is freed up for other needs. Students will encounter the uninsured population, perhaps for the first time, developing skills specific to the poor and vulnerable. Compassion, communication, social justice, and a broader global view are gifts a charity pharmacy offers in exchange for developing pharmacy skills. Students may leave inspired to incorporate these gifts into their future positions and volunteer work.
TIP: Check with state board of pharmacy to verify pharmacist ratio for students and technicians, and whether volunteers are included in this ratio.
Developing and providing an educational program is time consuming but can be a win-win for all involved. Precepting pharmacy and other students usually requires additional training or certification. Check with a local universities or schools of pharmacy to investigate requirements. Beyond pharmacy students, consider precepting other health professions, foreign language, small business, marketing, social services, and other majoring students.
Volunteers are a valuable resource for many non-pharmacy tasks within the pharmacy. Retired or volunteer pharmacists may be able to assist with pharmacy related tasks depending on licensure and liability. Non-pharmacy or healthcare volunteers can help with non-direct patient tasks. Students volunteering for Experiential Service Learning (ESL) may be able to interact with patients depending on the program. Pharmacist volunteers may require liability insurance if volunteering as a licensed pharmacist and not covered by a parent organization.
All volunteers should be oriented to pharmacy and pharmacy operations. Training may include HIPAA and privacy regulations, orientation to dealing with the patient population, pharmacy logistics, safety precautions, best practices, and media release if information will be used for marketing or reporting. Software products are available to manage and track volunteers.