Second year Pharm. D. student
Years at OSU:
City of Residence:
Oregon State University Pharm. D. student Evita Santos has been joining her classmates on the front lines against COVID-19 by volunteering to help inoculate Oregon Health & Sciences University medical professionals, faculty and staff with the COVID-19 vaccine. Organizing and participating in the clinics has given her the chance to experience what it’s like to fight back against the pandemic with science and education.
Santos first thought about becoming a pharmacist as a teenager living in Beaverton. Her mother was a nurse, and she was inspired by her healthcare-giver mentality. That combined with an interest in chemistry pushed her toward the field, and after job shadowing pharmacists her mother worked with, she realized it was something she wanted to pursue.
“I liked the way pharmacists are integrated with nurses and doctors,” she said. “It really aligned with my values.”
Santos decided to pursue her undergraduate at Oregon State because she liked the school and was interested in the Pharm. D. program. After receiving her degree in 2019, she is now in her second year of pharmacy school. She said she is excited about what she’s learning and how she can apply it to her future career. Her paid internship with Legacy Emmanuel Hospital in Portland is also giving her on-the-ground experience.
“It’s helping me learn to appreciate pharmacy even more,” Santos said. “The role is so important.”
As current student president-elect of Oregon State University’s American Society of Health-System Pharmacists chapter, Santos had already been leading student outreach at farmer’s markets and other places to administer blood pressure and glucose checks, but it was an even bigger job to be the liaison between OHSU and students for multiple clinics at the facility. So far more than 60 Oregon State students have volunteered at the clinics.
By administering COVID-19 vaccines and educating recipients on how the vaccine works, Santos is appreciating the chance to make people feel safer after a very challenging, uncertain year. She volunteered on the first day the vaccine was available in Oregon.
“It was a really humbling experience,” she said. “There were a lot of people taking selfies. Patients were really emotional. It’s really been something powerful to experience. To be able to administer the vaccine has been an honor.”
Santos received the vaccine herself, and will get her second dose this week. She said it was helpful to get the vaccine, because now she can share what she experienced with other patients, which for her included a lot of fatigue and a very sore arm.
Santos plans to volunteer at two more upcoming weekend clinics in January, but anticipates more work in the future as the Oregon Health Authority rolls out the vaccine to new groups. Meanwhile she’s proud to have been part of this historic time.
“People were being really vulnerable with me about what they were feeling when they finally got the vaccine,” she said. “We all felt really touched.”
~ Theresa Hogue