ETSU Wins Best Pharmacy Award for Service | Rogersville

The Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy at East Tennessee State University has won a top national award for community service, as part of its ongoing mission to serve rural and underserved populations in Appalachia.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) presented ETSU with the Lawrence C. Weaver Transformative Community Service Award, which is given annually to a college or school of pharmacy across the United States that demonstrates a commitment major institutional response to unmet community needs through education, practice and research. The AACP is the national organization representing the interests of pharmacy education.

The prize consists of a commemorative sculpture honoring the extraordinary social commitment of the establishment and a compensation of $5,000.

“It is a tremendous honor to join the ranks of elite pharmacy schools across the country who have earned this award for their service,” said Dean Debbie Byrd. “Our pharmacy students and faculty serve our community and positively impact patients year-round in some of the most rural and underserved areas of the Appalachian Highlands. I am proud that our service-oriented college – having been founded only since 2005 – has become a nationally recognized presence. I’m excited to see where we grow from here.

Highlights of the impact of Gatton College of Pharmacy services include:

• 50% of college practice sites serve rural and/or underserved populations.

• 97% of fourth-year students in 2019-20 completed at least one rural and/or underserved experience.

• Has helped administer over 30,000 doses of COVID-19 since December 2020.

• Has worked with local law enforcement since 2008, helping set up drug recovery operations in counties across the region, collecting nearly 30,000 pounds of unused, expired, or unwanted drugs.

• Served nearly 3,000 patients at Remote Area Medical (RAM) in Gray, Tennessee, since 2017.

• Distributed over 10,000 naloxone kits at RAM clinics and reached over 15,000 youth over the past decade with education about naloxone, stimulant abuse and prescription drug abuse.

• Connected over 550 student pharmacists with 150 older adult residents over 4,600 hours of service at Abundant Christian Living Community.

• Administered the only multi-state, multi-network Flip the Pharmacy team since 2019, designed to transform community pharmacies from traditional point-of-care processes at the prescription level to outcome-based, patient-level models of care.

• Partnered with local clinics and organizations where students serve, helped provide needed care and services to people in our area.

“The winning college’s commitment to service must be demonstrated through the development of exceptional programs that go far beyond the traditional service role of academic pharmacy,” according to the AACP award website. “The award highlights community service as an important part of the academic mission and recognizes institutions that can serve as examples of social responsiveness in the academic pharmacy community. It demonstrates a community’s commitment to transformative community service rather than a preconceived status.

“I want to thank all of our community partners for their support and for the opportunity to work with them to serve the community,” Byrd said. “Together we have had a huge impact on the Appalachian Highlands.”

ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy was founded in 2005 by the community with a mission to develop progressive, team-oriented pharmacists who improve health care, with a focus on rural and underserved communities. The college has won numerous national awards and honors for its service, academic achievement, and clinical training. Learn more at

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