A toxic education: Poison Control Center offers pharmacy students careers in community education

By By Tandra Steiner

By Tandra Steiner

The Utah Poison Control Center in the College of Pharmacy educates the public about exposure to dangerous chemicals.

The center’s staff consists of 11 specialists who assist callers with emergency situations or toxicity questions.

“The most rewarding part of working at the center is knowing we provide a valuable service to physicians, the public health community and to the general public,” said Barbara Insley Crouch, director of the center.

Center specialists are either pharmacists or registered nurses with three or more years of experience in intensive care units or emergency rooms. The specialists must also undergo a minimum three-month training period.

Students in the doctor of pharmacy program are required to complete a four-week rotation at the Drug Information Service.

As a program that is part of the College of Pharmacy, the center is actively involved in the education of clinical toxicology.

Helping parents “assess their children and the situation and recommend the proper treatment” is one of the most rewarding aspects of working at the center, said Chad Condie, a fourth-year student in the program.

“By learning the toxicity of common-household products and what should be done if a product is used improperly, I’m able to assist others as well as benefit personally from the information gained.”

The center also offers a poison-prevention elective, Pharmacotherapy 7447, in which students conduct service-learning clinics to help educate various communities.

Students participate in health fairs and speak at elementary schools.

“We educate people on how to prevent poison exposures from occurring in the first place,” said Dan Barton, a fourth-year pharmacy student who completed the poison-prevention elective.

Students in the class also inform the public of the center’s Poison Help hotline, 1-800-222-1222.

“The nice aspect about the Poison Help hotline is the public can use it without any repercussions,” Barton said.

A parent can call in six or seven times and not be questioned about it. Barton said he continues to give out the number one or two times a week.

To learn more about the Poison Control Center or learn poison prevention and safety tips, visit http://uuhsc.utah.edu/poison.

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