Health & Wellness Society & Culture

Healthy Dawgs wellness program helps UGA workforce, pharmacy students

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A third-year pharmacy student takes a UGA employee's medical history at a Healthy Dawg wellness program checkup.

Athens, Ga. – A wellness initiative by the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy is bettering the lives of 65 UGA employees. Through the Healthy Dawgs program, they are learning more about their prescription medications and how to make health-improving decisions. According to a recent assessment, many participants have reported marked improvement in their well-being and lifestyle.

The program is also giving third-year pharmacy students introductory work experience.

“Our interventions have led patients to stop smoking, change their diet and exercise regimens and meet their disease state goals,” said Lindsey Welch, a public service assistant in the college’s division of experience programs who organized the program for third-year pharmacy students. Other introductory pharmacy practice experiences expose students to the hospital, retail and clinical aspects of pharmacy practice in conjunction with their traditional pharmacy courses.

At the wellness sessions, pharmacy students take a complete medical history of each patient, discuss ways to better manage patients’ conditions and help them learn more about how their medications work. Patients receive physical assessments-such as blood pressure, weight, waist circumference and diabetic foot exams-and point-of-care laboratory values, such as fasting blood glucose and lipid panels.

Educational materials are distributed about disease states, diet and exercise patterns to prevent or improve disease, over-the-counter medication selection and healthy goal setting.

As part of the Healthy Dawgs program, pharmacy students meet with patients four times over the course of the academic year. Through effective communication with each patient, they expect to promote trust, improve medication adherence and encourage healthier lifestyles.

“Each visit is an opportunity to assess the patient’s progress toward health goals that the students helped the patient set at the beginning of the program,” said Linda Hughes, program co-instructor and public service assistant in the division of experience programs.

Another important aspect of the program is communication between the pharmacy students and each patient’s physician in order to coordinate care. Progress notes written after each visit include recommendations to optimize drug therapy for each patient.

“The students have been able to identify drug interactions, inadequate medication therapies and other medication-related problems and have notified the physicians of these issues,” Welch said. “We truly feel that Healthy Dawgs is a win-win situation for the university. Our students are able to apply their knowledge and skills to real patients, and the employees are able to take advantage of a unique program dedicated to their health.”

Healthy Dawgs works with selected UGA departments each year. For more information about the program, contact Welch at 706/583-0223 or Hughes at 706/542-2153.