With the massive successes that came about at the initial Student Society of Health Systems Pharmacy (SSHP) Penicillin Allergy Educational Task Force event held at Soda City in Columbia, SC, and the national presentation of our mission at the annual Student Society Showcase, our group sought to bolster the campaign with help from current SSHP members to increase our outreach. After overwhelmingly reaching more than 70 people at the first event, the educational task force enlisted help to ask and answer the question of, “Are you truly allergic to penicillin?” Prior to the second Soda City event, the group reached out to the current members of SSHP at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy to gauge the overall interest in participating in such events throughout the academic year and the results were somewhat shocking. A whopping 15 members expressed interest in the community outreach project and signed up to participate in the next Soda City Market event in February 2019.
Gearing up for future events, the Task Force members implemented a training program for the interested members to complete prior to speaking with members of the community. Training topics consisted of locating reference materials, statistics of penicillin allergies, general pharmacology information of penicillin antibiotics, the role of a pharmacist in inpatient penicillin allergy skin testing, and antimicrobial stewardship efforts.
All members who were interested in participating in at least one event throughout the year were added to a group on the Blackboard educational platform, through which they were provided information about the task force mission and resources to aid in their personal development as a volunteer. Additionally, the task force members collectively created a proficiency exam to ensure that all volunteers were equipped with the skills and knowledge to provide accurate and relevant information required to respond appropriately to inquiries at the events. At the educational meeting held prior to the outreach event, members of the Task Force presented the materials to the volunteers in an informational and scenario-based format that was designed to prepare them for real situations and tough questions that they may encounter at the event.
In a feedback survey, one volunteer stated, “I found the training session very beneficial, along with the resources provided. It made me feel more prepared to spread awareness, especially since I'm a P1 (first year pharmacy student) and haven't learned as much about it.” Overall, all of the volunteers were in agreeance that the educational training session prepared them to educate the public about penicillin allergy truths, myths, and misconceptions.
Through this program, the goal of the task force was to spread our mission of penicillin allergy education to the members of SSHP and to allow for more people to volunteer and engage in community outreach. It was the consensus of the Penicillin Allergy Educational Task Force that volunteers should collectively be well versed in the topics of penicillin allergies and well equipped with quick resources and reference materials to provide accurate and unbiased information to adequately ask and answer the question, “Are you truly allergic?”