Auburn Pharmacist Spotlight: Josh Francis

Christian Moore, Austin Cook, Josh Francis, Dr. Karen Marlowe, Frankie Hoffman, Anthony Todd and Jonathan Trawick at the Student-Run Free Clinic Grand Opening.

October 14, 2015

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Periodically, the Harrison School of Pharmacy will highlight one of its students, faculty members, staff members or alums. For October, we will learn more about Josh Francis and the PAWS Clinic in Mobile.

Francis is a P2 at the HSOP Mobile campus. He is currently serving as President of PAWS, or Providing Access to Wellness Services, Clinic in Mobile. PAWS is the Auburn arm of the University of South Alabama Student-Run Free Clinic, a student-run initiative with the purpose of enhancing wellness in underserved and vulnerable populations in Mobile. Auburn pharmacy students partner with South Alabama students in medical school, nursing school or majoring in social work and other health care areas to provide these services. The clinic, located at the 15th Place Homeless Shelter, 279B N. Washington Avenue, Mobile, held a ribbon-cutting and open house recently. To learn more about the PAWS program and the pharmacy students' involvement, go to their Facebook page.

How did the PAWS program come about?
The PAWS program was initially started by a group of first-year pharmacy students last year on the Mobile campus of the Harrison School of Pharmacy, or HSOP. After learning about a similar program called Equal Access Birmingham, we wanted to bring the same experience to Mobile. Several students worked with HSOP administration and the University of South Alabama College of Medicine to develop a role for the pharmacy discipline in the USA Student-Run Free Clinic. This clinic runs out of the 15th Place Shelter in downtown Mobile.

Who benefits from the clinic and how will it benefit the area?
This clinic serves the homeless and underserved population in the Mobile area. Many of these individuals are without food, shelter and adequate medical care. We are currently able to provide basic wellness services to all people willing to be seen that come to the day shelter. These services include blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring, basic vital reports (height, weight, temperature, pulse) and basic physical exams. Since services and full therapy options may be limited for these patients, educational materials on their chronic disease states, nutrition and overall wellness can be most beneficial for managing their health. If further medical evaluation is necessary, the students make referrals. The pharmacy students are also able to provide basic Medication Therapy Management services to these individuals.

What does this experience in a clinical setting do for the students involved?
We are able utilize to and develop the skills learned from our Contemporary Aspects of Pharmacy Practice lab sequence immediately, rather than waiting until rotations for relevant practice opportunities. Having this clinic exposure at the start of their academic career is very beneficial in developing a practice-ready pharmacist.

What is it like working as part of a health care team with USA medical, nursing, physician assistant, occupational therapy and social work students?
This is a unique opportunity for students from all disciplines. We are able to learn about other health care professionals and establish a relationship early on to demonstrate the capabilities of pharmacy students. For my colleagues and me, this is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate the wide array of skills we have learned and show we do more than 'count pills' and check prescriptions.

What are some of the future plans for the PAWS Clinic?
Right now we are only a 'wellness' clinic. This means we are not able to fully treat patients and prescribe medications. Our primary functions are to determine the patient's current medical condition and refer them to fully licensed clinics for further treatment options if necessary. The clinic has grown extensively within the past year by adding on several new disciplines and growing our patient base weekly. We are currently working on a plan to move to a larger location that is better suited to operate as a treatment clinic. We currently have oversight by medical residents, volunteering physicians and nursing faculty. In the future, we plan to incorporate more physicians willing to prescribe medications on-site. Having a dispensary in the same facility would better optimize the care we are able to provide to this population.


Pharmacy, Medical and Nursing students collaborate on treating patients at the PAWS Clinic.

P2 Josh Francis serves as the President of the PAWS Clinic.

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About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. In 2014, the school adopted the slogan, “Making Medications Work Through Innovative Research, Education and Patient Care.” For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

Last Updated: October 14, 2015