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Pharmacy Student Completes Service-Learning Rotation


Pharmacy Student Completes Service-Learning Rotation

Pharmacy student Sara Mourhess recently completed a six-week service-learning Advanced Practice Pharmacy Experience (APPE) rotation with a local organization, Melissa’s Living Legacy Teen Cancer Foundation. She worked with Dr. Amy Parkhill, Associate Professor in the Wegmans School of Pharmacy, to complete the very first APPE rotation at this site.

Lauren Spiker, Executive Director, founded Melissa’s Living Legacy Teen Cancer Foundation following the death of her teenage daughter, Melissa, whose last request of her mother inspires the organization’s work today: “if you have learned anything from me through all of this, do something to make a difference - to make things better.” The organization’s mission is to provide resources and support that enhance the quality of life for all impacted by adolescent cancer – teens, their family, friends, and healthcare professionals who treat them.

One of the programs funded by the organization is the Teens Living with Cancer (TLC) program, a peer support program for survivors between the ages of 13-22. TLC provides comprehensive and continuous support throughout cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. The program incorporates a variety of activities with the teens that range from a movie or game night, to one-day wellness retreats and weekend trips. Mourhess said the activities help to diminish isolation, relieve stress and anxiety, and help teens learn coping strategies and rebuild self-confidence.

While on rotation, Mourhess helped prepare for events such as the TLC Bandana Bolt, the organization’s first annual 5K race, which will be held on October 13, 2013. She also helped prepare for Journeys, an annual fundraiser, which includes a benefit dinner, a silent auction, and a performance from the teens.

Mourhess said that the most meaningful piece of work she completed during her service-learning rotation was a chart comprised of chemotherapy medications, their associated common side effects, and other information that is vital to be aware of when newly diagnosed with cancer. This new resource will be provided to teens and parents upon entry into the TLC program to use as a reference.

In addition, she prepared new content for TLC’s website ( which includes valuable information for teens about exercise during and after chemotherapy treatment.

“Knowing that my work will impact the future teens of the TLC program is not only gratifying, I have also gained new appreciation for the value of service to the community, which is really the purpose of a service-learning rotation,” said Mourhess.

She hopes others will find this rotation as valuable and impactful as she has, and anticipates continuing to support TLC in future years to come.

“This unique and rewarding experience will help future pharmacists develop compassion and appreciation for the diversity of the community and aid in providing excellent patient-centered care,” she added.

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