Summer Research Students Say Hello

This summer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with two motivated pharmacy students on research projects related to family planning services at community pharmacies. They’d like to say “hello” and tell you why they are doing this work.

Kevin Vu and Emily Richards, Summer Research Students

Kevin Vu and Emily Richards, Summer Research Students

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kevin.

I chose to do a reproductive health-related summer research project because as the pharmacy profession is evolving, pharmacists are playing larger roles in providing family planning services directly to patients. My research for instance, is a survey study of pharmacists’ attitudes towards a recent California law that will allow pharmacists to provide hormonal birth control directly to patients without a prescription (under a protocol that is currently under development…more to come on this).

Family planning is a topic that I come across frequently at the chain community pharmacy where I work. For example, I recently had the opportunity to counsel a patient on proper use of the over-the-counter emergency contraception, Plan B One-Step, and the appropriate time frame to take it. But, many people may feel awkward discussing these topics.  I hope you find this site to be a place where you can comfortably voice your opinions and get any of your burning questions answered. After all, protecting your sexual and reproductive health is important to your overall health.

Hi there! My name is Emily.

Since starting pharmacy school, I have constantly been shown the ways in which the pharmacist plays a vital role in healthcare…in ways I didn’t even expect. The passing of the new law Kevin mentioned expands the role of the pharmacist even further. Once pharmacists can provide hormonal birth control methods directly to patients, this will be very helpful for women who prefer getting their birth control directly at the pharmacy.

I am also conducting a summer research project. I am interviewing pharmacists in order to understand their interest in providing pharmacy access to family planning services, as well as challenges they may face in doing so.  I chose this topic because this expanding pharmacist role places pharmacists in the unique position to provide family planning services, which is especially important for those who may be unable to afford or scared to obtain services otherwise. I am not quite finished with the project, but I have already become more aware about how important women’s health and family planning services are to the community. I am learning a lot and hope you too can learn from this website and use it as a resource.

Kevin Vu is a third-year student and Emily Richards is a second-year student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Why I Started Choose Control

Image from JakeandLindsay Sherbert via Flickr

Those of you who know me have probably heard me talk about sexual and reproductive health, particularly family planning.  You may be asking, “what exactly is family planning?”  Great question!  Family planning is planning if and/or when to start a family by having children.  You accomplish this by using birth control when you don’t want to have a child, for example.  People who have the opposite goal — to have a child — accomplish this by using preconception care and infertility treatments (however, this is not the focus of Choose Control).

My focus is to help women and men who do not want to start or expand their families right now with their family planning needs.  Seems simple.  But as a nation, we are doing a really bad job of family planning despite a lot of valiant efforts.  Ready to have your mind blown?  Over half of all pregnancies…51% to be exact…are unintended (i.e., mistimed or unwanted).  That’s about 3 million of the 6 million pregnancies in the United States each year.  I hope your mind has been blown by this one statistic (if not, I’ve got lots more where that came from or check out this fact sheet).

Now you’re beginning to understand my passion for this issue.

As a pharmacist specializing in family planning, I know some things worth sharing. Pharmacists have expertise on medications and my expertise is on birth control (i.e., contraception in medical lingo).  I’d like to keep you, my friends and followers, in the know with relevant information and news on research, public policy, and products.  I will make this interactive and fun too.

In closing, I hope you will find Choose Control’s content useful.  I look forward to your comments, suggestions, and questions!