Harrison Ferro of Berwick, Pa., a student in Wilkes University’s Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, is the recipient of a United States Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award. Ferro received an additional recognition for being among the top ten students nationally who received the award, which was given to a total of 89 students in the United States. Ferro was recognized for educational programs for the community addressing the opioid epidemic and for initiatives promoting community health. Ferro is the first Wilkes student pharmacist to be named to the top ten. It is the seventh consecutive year that a student in the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy has been recognized with the award.
The award recognizes pharmacy students who have made significant contributions to public health by promoting wellness and healthy communities. Students are evaluated on their contributions to voluntary health-related services, an emerging public health issue or contributions to public health. This includes advancing the objectives of Healthy People 2030, the Surgeon General’s priorities, and the pharmacy profession. Ferro was nominated for the award by Ajay Bommareddy, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy.
Ferro is completing his third year in the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy. His accomplishments include coordinating opioid awareness activities and naloxone training, educating parents and schoolchildren on safe medication practices and disposal, and educating elderly on cardiovascular health and blood pressure screenings.
Initiatives in which he has taken a leadership role included creating and coordinating the “Medwise” event, which involved over 60 pharmacy students and seven licensed pharmacists educating 111 Boy Scouts on safe medication practices, first aid and CPR skills, opioid awareness and naloxone use. Naloxone is the approved medication used to counteract overdoses. He collaborated with the Family Service Association, to provide naloxone training to attendees at an opioid awareness conference. The event successfully trained 40 individuals on naloxone usage and handling an opioid breathing emergency. Harrison also collaborated with the Wilkes-Barre Department of Health to incorporate pharmacy students into naloxone giveaways, to educate individuals on proper usage of naloxone
Ferro also developed and co-hosts a radio show that is broadcast on Wilkes University’s campus radio station WCLH. The program reaches 5,000 individuals weekly on topics related to safe medication practices, substance use disorders, naloxone, and more related to the opioid epidemic. He also worked with three local pharmacies to establish 14 blood pressure screenings staffed with student volunteers that benefitted over 100 individuals throughout the 2018-2019 academic year.
Ferro’s role in public health efforts was key to his acceptance into the Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center Scholars Program. This program aims to promote the health of underserved rural communities through interprofessional collaboration. He also recently was a leader on a student team that was recognized nationally as the top student chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Generation Rx program. Generation Rx’s mission is to educate people of all ages about the potential dangers of misusing prescription medications.