Rho Chi Society inducts 17 members

March 27, 2013

KINGSVILLE, Texas — Like all pharmacy students, those at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy face many changes in the profession as they begin their journey as pharmacists.

Important insight can be provided by someone who’s been there before, and Lourdes Cuéllar, M.S., R.Ph., FASHP, director of pharmacy and clinical support services at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research Memorial Hermann in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, shared her experiences  with students April 2 during the Dean’s Hour. Later that evening, the college’s Rho Chi Society inducted 17 new members into the Academic Honor Society at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Center.

To listen to her lecture please click here.

Cuéllar said students need to establish a legacy as they practice patient care by initiating change.

“You have to find your passion,” she said. “That is what is going to take you to work every day.”

Students cannot wait around for others to make changes, either.

“There’s so much change going on in health care,” Cuéllar said.  “We can maximize our profession or we can go along for the ride,” she said.

The changes in health care will provide pharmacists an opportunity to step into leadership positions to become change agents.

An area she sees as potential opportunities for future pharmacists is reaching the 38 percent Hispanic population in Texas. The percent of pharmacists who were Hispanic or Latino was 3.2 percent, compared to 12.5 percent of the U.S. population that was Hispanic or Latino in 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resource and Service Administration’s 2000 report.

“I am Hispanic and the number of Hispanics in pharmacy is very low, yet the population is growing. There are many health disparities in the Valley,” she said.

The TAMHSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy was created in 2006 in response to the shortage of pharmacists in the border region of Texas.

Meanwhile, as a member of the Association of College Honor Societies, Rho Chi gives professional recognition in the field of pharmacy to students for academic excellence. Candidates for induction must complete at least half of their didactic pharmacy doctorate degree program and place within the top 20 percent of their class.

“The Rho Chi Society encourages and recognizes excellence in intellectual achievement and fosters fellowship among its members,” said Jesse Castillo, president of the chapter. “Further, the society encourages high standards of conduct and character and advocates critical inquiry in all aspects of pharmacy.”

The Rho Chi Society Chapter Gamma Omega started in 2008 at the TAMHSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy.

“To serve as the Rho Chi adviser is an honorable duty to assist and help coordinate chapter activities,” said Mohammad Nutan, Ph.D, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences. “The Rho Chi Induction Banquet is a special and prestigious ceremony bringing together motivated scholars in the field of pharmacy. I look forward to work with the new members of the chapter.”

Cuéllar’s professional interests are in the areas of pharmacy practice management, mentoring pharmacy students and residents, leadership development, health care policy, alleviation of health disparities and health literacy.

She is a past-president of the Texas Society of Health-System Pharmacists (TSHP) and of the Gulf Coast Society of Health-System Pharmacists. She is the current president of the TSHP Research and Education Foundation.

As a way to give back to students, Cuéllar established a $1,500 scholarship in memory of her parents, Celso and Matiana Cuéllar, who were from Zapata, Texas. Texas pharmacy students can apply for this scholarship this coming year through TSHP foundation scholarships.

“My parents gave us library cards before we could walk,” who is the middle child, of three. Her older brother is retired pharmacist in San Antonio and her sister is practices social work in Houston.

She also serves on the Texas Statewide Health Coordinating Council by appointment from Gov. Rick Perry. She is the hospital and pharmacy representative on the council.

“We develop and write the state health plan that the legislators use for background information,” she said. “For example, health care professionals practice. We look at the work force issues related to all health professions in all of the state, rural, urban, and suburban.”

In addition, she is an adjunct clinical professor of pharmacy practice and administration at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy and adjunct clinical associate professor at the University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy.

She received both her Bachelor of Science in pharmacy and Master of Science in pharmacy administration from the University of Houston.

— Cheri Shipman

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