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Aminda Skan: USPHS Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award

April 22,  2019 - ANCHORAGE, AK

Our sincere congratulations to Aminda Skan, who was awarded the Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award from the United State Public Health Service.

Aminda, an Alaska Native pharmacy student, is in her second year of professional education in the newly formed University of Alaska/ Idaho State University (UAA/ISU) Doctor of Pharmacy Program located in Anchorage, Alaska. Aminda is part of the second cohort admitted to the program, and she embodies the core values of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and Public Health Pharmacy: Leadership, Service, Integrity, and Excellence.

As with many indigenous scholars, Aminda’s path to pharmacy was indirect. She worked as a pharmacy technician for many years in Anchorage, but it wasn’t until the local pharmacy program was established that she was able to pursue her dream to serve her community while remaining part of the community.

Aminda, the Operation Immunization chair, led a multi-disciplinary, no-cost, in-kind immunization program increasing influenza and pneumococcal vaccine access among assisted living home residents, staff, and visiting family members in the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Valley.

Through Aminda’s exceptional leadership and commitment to service interventions resulting from this on-site, volunteer-based, vaccine administration program increased immunization rates by 44%. The number of homes visited increased by 61%, 5% of which were 65 miles from the College of Pharmacy, which served as training and coordination hub for the program, supporting program integrity. The student driven program both directly and indirectly increased vaccine awareness by assisted living home residents and staff, and improved resident acceptance to vaccine receipt through one-one-one communication with residents and through culturally sensitive delivery of health promotion and disease prevention information.

Vaccine preventable disease remains a significant health concern for elderly people in the US. Racial and ethnic disparities in vaccine administration persist despite many community-based and health system interventions. Studies have shown that outreach services such as Aminda’s assisted living home intervention improve access to preventative services, decrease the need for costly hospitalizations, and improve overall health across indigenous, urban and rural communities.

Aminda’s leadership and commitment to service and excellence improved access and care received by over 300 Alaskan elders, living in assisted living homes. This intervention directly improved the health of underserved and underrepresented community members, it embodies the mission of the USPHS to support health and disease prevention through immunization and community engagement, and demonstrates service above and beyond the role expectations (Operation Immunization chair). We are so proud to see her leadership, service, integrity, and excellence celebrated by the USPHS Pharmacist Professional Advisory Committee!

Aminda Skan professional headshot, smiling, in a dark red sweater