New student organization, PediaCats, founded

Hanna PhanA group of PharmD students has initiated a new student organization dedicated to pediatric health and pharmacy practice. PediaCATS, which is currently working to gain formal recognition by the university, will unite students in an effort to improve the well-being of children within the community while emphasizing pediatrics as a specialty.

Some of the activities PediaCATS will pursue include pediatric health fairs; community outreach, including education on health issues for children; clinical lunch talks to promote awareness of pediatric diseases and pediatric clinical practice and the role of pharmacists in these areas; and community service to local pediatric hospitals.

The new organization is headed by Tina Vallabh, president; Amelia Smith, vice president of philanthropy; Clarissa Sema, vice president of membership and professional affairs; Marti Larriva, treasurer/secretary; and Beena Vemulapalli, service coordinator. All are members of the Class of 2014.

“I would like to emphasize that all the students who ran for elected office of the inaugural PediaCATS did an outstanding job and demonstrated a true interest in this new organization,” says Hanna Phan (above), clinical assistant professor and faculty adviser to the new organization. “With the need for awareness of pediatric health issues and opportunities for pharmacy to impact the care of this population, I believe PediaCATS will provide an avenue for students to learn more about this patient population and consider this specialty practice in the future.”

According to Phan, pediatric pharmacy student organizations are rare nationally and there are only a handful of colleges that have pursued and successfully launched such groups. The Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group, the national pediatric pharmacy organization, does not have student chapters, but Phan is currently in discussion with the organization regarding possible future recognition of PediaCATS as a student chapter or local chapter of PPAG.