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Pharmacy and Public Health Intersect through Fellowship

April 15, 2020

Through a uniquely created Wegmans School of Pharmacy fellowship program, Joy Snyder ’18 (Pharm.D.) has been able to integrate pharmacy practice into public health while simultaneously pursuing a master of public health degree at St. John Fisher College.

Joy Snyder in personal protective equipment for her work with the Monroe County Department of Health..

As a public health fellow, Snyder worked with her research advisory group, led by Drs. Christine Birnie, dean of the School, and Beth Sutton Burke, assistant professor, to engage in activities at several sites. Snyder actively teaches and works on research projects focused on public health with the School of Pharmacy, focuses on chronic care disease management for patients at the Anthony Jordan Health Center, and works on corporate projects and integrative medicine with Wegmans. She also spends time at the Monroe County Department of Health, under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Mendoza, commissioner of public health. In this role, she offers insight on public health topics from the perspective of a pharmacist and assists with flu shot clinics, among other projects. Calling it a communication-heavy fellowship where many collaborators are involved, she said the experiences improved her in-person, phone, and email communication skills.

When a new virus appeared in Wuhan, China, Snyder’s fellowship and coursework in the master’s program took on a new sense of urgency and connectedness. Her public health professors began to focus on the virus and she had a front seat view of how the county planned to handle a local outbreak.

“We were talking about COVID in classes when it was in China, and we had discussions about what if it arrives in the U.S.,” she said. “Professors took full advantage of timing to center classes around it, and other students who work in hospitals and pharmacies were able to share different perspectives on it.”

Joy Snyder with fellow colleagues at the Monroe County Department of Health.

Like many colleagues in the health care field, her work ramped up in March, as COVID-19 cases began to be reported in Monroe County. She joined the county’s Medical Reserve Corps, administering tests and supporting patients in isolation. In the early stages, Snyder and the team would do home visits, walking patients through isolation paperwork, answering questions, and ensuring they had necessary supplies.

“On a daily basis, the state and county are changing their policies, so we are helping patients keep track of those changes,” she said. “There is a lot of information out there and we experience the changes in the workforce every day.”

Today, she counsels patients by phone and helps train new volunteers to help manage the growing number of cases in the county.

While it might intimidate some to suit up in personal protective equipment and work on the front lines, Snyder said her calling to help others is what pushes her forward.

“I was ready to get out there. I want to help our community and do whatever I can,” she said. “As pharmacists, we don’t always have the opportunity to serve in these types of roles, and doing so now can help us expand the profession and do more to help patients.”