By Brianna Wilson and Tom Szymanski

National Pharmacy Week: Celebrating UNM College of Pharmacy’s Commitment to Community

The University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy accepted its first class of 33 students in 1945. What was the university’s first health professional college has since graduated more than 3,100 pharmacists. Many have chosen to stay and practice in New Mexico.

“I would never leave this state because of what I can do right here in New Mexico,” said Indiana native Melanie Dodd, PharmD, PhC, BCPS, FASHP, and the associate dean of Clinical Affairs for the UNM of College of Pharmacy.

College of Pharmacy Community Outreach Day

Dodd continued, saying pharmacists are invaluable to their communities as medication experts and professional medical consultants with advice and information at no cost to the patient. This week the college is celebrating that important work with a Community Outreach Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

“This is an important day because we will be offering flu vaccines at various locations,” said Amy Bachyrycz, PharmD, associate professor with the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administrative Sciences in the UNM College of Pharmacy. “If patients have not gotten their flu vaccine by Oct. 20—which I would encourage them all to do as soon as possible—this is an opportunity for those with or without insurance to go ahead and get their flu vaccine.”

Community Outreach Day 2023 | Free Services Friday, October 20th


  • International District Library 7601 Central Avenue, Albuquerque, NM 87108 10am-3pm
  • Oak Street Health Parking lot 1625 Rio Bravo Boulevard SW #36 Albuquerque, NM 87105 9am-3pm
  • Oak Street Health Parking lot 5555 Zuni Road SE #11, Albuquerque, NM 87108 9am-3pm

Services Include:

  • Flu Shots
  • Blood pressure checks
  • Glucose checks
  • Patient education
  • Other health screenings

UNM Pharmacy students will administer free flu vaccinations at three locations across Albuquerque. They will also provide blood pressure tests, glucose checks and other health screenings, as well as answer any health-related questions patients may have. Bachyrycz said events like this are just as beneficial to pharmacy students as they are to patients.

“It is good for the pharmacy students to realize that this profession really does impact the community, and it makes a better relationship, a more trusting relationship,” Bachyrycz said. “Pharmacies can fill a lot of gaps in care, and they are going to have to fill those gaps in care, as we have more and more provider shortages or it becomes more difficult to get in for a provider visit.”


Pharmacies can fulfill a lot of gaps in care, and they are going to have to fulfill those gaps in care, as we have more and more provider shortages or it becomes more difficult to get in for provider visit.
Amy Bachyrycz, , PharmD, associate professor with the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administrative Sciences, UNM College of Pharmacy

Test to Treat

The UNM College of Pharmacy is equipping future graduating pharmacists with a new tool—  “Test to Treat” certification. Dodd, who is also the House of Delegates chair for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, has been pushing to expand pharmacy services at the legislative level. She said “Test to Treat” is a game changer.

“Recently passed in 2023 is exciting new legislation, which will allow New Mexico pharmacists, with additional training, to become certified to have independent prescriptive authority,” Dodd said. “As a result of that training, the pharmacist would be able to assess symptoms that you may be experiencing, and then potentially prescribe a medication that would be appropriate for you to manage the infection.”

During the pandemic, pharmacies were used as COVID testing locations to take pressure off urgent care and primary care clinics. Health care leaders noted the efficacy of the change and determined pharmacists could alleviate even more pressure with training to test for other illnesses and treat them.

“So, for example, if you tested positive for flu, then I can prescribe you Tamiflu,” Bachyrycz said.

Pharmacists will also be qualified to test and treat for strep throat, uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTI) and pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV. Bachyrycz said patients can expect results by phone shortly after the test, then may return to pick-up any necessary medication.

Since “Test to Treat” was only recently passed, few New Mexico pharmacists have received certification. Dodd and Bachyrycz said that will change in 2024 with UNM College of Pharmacy graduates receiving the training.

“The hope is that we will get all the testing equipment, the billing infrastructure and the training completed, such that community pharmacies will be able to provide those services soon,” Dodd said.

She added that these services will further strengthen patient/pharmacist relationships, and provide more options to those who may not have a primary care provider or access to medical care.

“We know that nationally, 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy,” Dodd said. “You have doctorate level-trained pharmacists, who are working in those environments, and truly are the member of the health care team with the most training in medications.”

Both Dodd and Bachyrycz encourage anyone who is interested to join that health care team themselves and make a difference in their communities. They also said New Mexico is a wonderful state to practice as a pharmacist. 

“New Mexico has always been on the forefront of advancing our careers and our profession as pharmacists,” Dodd said. “I would highly encourage any young person that is considering a career in health care to apply to the UNM College of Pharmacy and come experience what we have to offer right here in Albuquerque.”

For more information, a virtual campus tour or to apply to the UNM College of Pharmacy, click here.
Categories: College of Pharmacy, Community Engagement, News You Can Use, Top Stories