The Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College, along with New York State Sen. Rich Funke, R-Fairport, recently announced new legislation that will allow pharmacy students serving as pharmacy interns to deliver immunizations under the guidance of practicing pharmacists.
“When faculty and students from the St. John Fisher Wegmans School of Pharmacy reached out to me about this issue, I did not hesitate to see if a change could be made at the state level,” said Funke, who co-sponsored the bill, which will amend current New York state education law to allow for this certification. The bill was passed by both the Senate and Assembly in June and is expected to be signed into law by the governor.
“When signed, this new law will allow for more timely immunizations for patients while providing more opportunities for our up and coming pharmacy students to learn their craft under proper supervision,” said Funke.
Faculty and administrators at the Wegmans School of Pharmacy applaud the bill, noting that it brings New York State pharmacy intern privileges in line with dozens of states across the country.
“We’re very excited that this legislation has the support of both the Senate and Assembly, and we are grateful to Senator Funke for his assistance and confidence in our future pharmacists,” said Christine Birnie, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “We look forward to working with the State Board of Pharmacy on its implementation and are eager to provide our students the ability to deliver this important health care service.”
Prior to the legislation, pharmacy students could not administer immunizations until graduating and passing state licensure exams, despite completing eight hours of classroom training and four hours of hands-on instruction for which they receive certification. With the new law, that certification can now be submitted to the Department of Education and students serving as interns or engaging in clinical rotations at hospitals, community pharmacies or health care clinics can assist patients who seek immunizations for influenza, pneumonia, meningitis, tetanus or shingles.
Birnie said this bill reflects the expanding scope of pharmacists in the community, referencing a standing order from New York state that allows pharmacists to administer immunizations to children as well as adults.
“With a third of our pharmacy curriculum being experiential in nature, our students are available in the community to meet the medication-related needs of patients. This is one more way they can serve their patients,” said Birnie.
While schools of pharmacy in New York state have been advocating for this law for several years, it was a topic of much discussion at Albany Advocacy Day, which saw nearly 800 students, faculty and staff from the state’s eight pharmacy schools visit the capital to discuss issues of concern within the profession. Fisher was represented by more than 80 students and faculty at the event.
“Permitting students the opportunity to provide immunizations not only cements the training provided at the School of Pharmacy but advances the public health,” said Karl Williams, who organized Fisher’s participation in Albany Advocacy Day. “Credit to our student advocates and the Pharmacy Society of Rochester who provided the compelling citizen advocacy to help advance this legislation.”
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