Since June, Robert Morris (’20) has been working as the Lead Pharmacy Technician for Brian’s Pharmacy in Sherwood, Ark., assisting the community-owned pharmacy in its day-to-day operations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morris, who graduated with his Master of Public Service and concurrent Master of Public Health from the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in December, assists the pharmacy in accepting orders, keeping inventory, working with insurance companies, and assisting patient requests as needed.
“This position was a great way to keep myself involved in the healthcare field while also staying close to home to help me in completing my IPSP and Capstone and school work before graduating in December,” said Morris, a native of Jacksonville, Ark. “Although I will be looking for work in public service and public health in the future, I have been blessed to be able to work somewhere that is able to serve the overall health of the community throughout the greatest public health crisis of our lifetimes.”
Morris was connected with the position while looking for local work when his International Public Service Project, which would have sent him to Peru, shifted to remote work due to the onset of the pandemic. He worked domestically with Helping Overcome Obstacles Peru (HOOP), a nonprofit using education to help Flora Tristan families break the cycle of poverty, in creating and implementing a communication plan focused around preventative health and hygiene tips, and fundraising in light of COVID-19.
The pandemic has impacted his current position with Brian’s Pharmacy in unique ways. Drive-thru service has become the norm for patients as Brian’s, like many businesses across the country, was forced to close its lobby to limit virus exposure. The pharmacy has shifted its service model by delivering prescriptions to patients who do not want to leave their homes.
Recently, Morris’ position took on an added importance as the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine became available to high-risk populations.
“We just received the vaccine in the first week of the month, which has undoubtedly shifted our day-to-day activities,” Morris said. “As we have only started vaccinating health care workers, long-term care staff and patients, and first responders, I am very lucky to be included in that group of vaccinations and have been able to help in processing vaccinations to help in the fight against the virus.”
Long-term, Morris said he is looking for work with hospitals or nonprofits related to communication practices, fundraising, and development.
“Overall, I want to help to increase access to health resources for communities, whether it is through keeping them informed or helping to raise funds to help them in receiving care in the first place,” he said.
Morris’ Capstone project developed health resources with Harmony Health Clinic, a Little Rock nonprofit that seeks to provide access to quality health care at no cost to patients, to keep underserved Arkansans throughout the pandemic. Beyond his Clinton School field service work, he spent the summer of 2019 as a Community Initiatives Intern with Arkansas Foodbank, the largest hunger relief organization in the state.
“I have been very encouraged to see the amount of interest for the vaccine,” Morris said. “Many people in the community have put their trust in the science in order for the city, state, country, and world to rebuild after such a trying time.”
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