Three UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty members will take nationwide a tobacco cessation training program they developed in California. With a $784,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), they will expand the "Rx for Change" program, which trains pharmacy graduate students to counsel patients to stop smoking -- including those who are not yet considering quitting. Working on the frontlines of the health care system, pharmacists are uniquely accessible to counsel patients on quitting smoking. In the US, community pharmacies employ more than 130,000 pharmacists. "If each of these pharmacists assisted just one patient each month with quitting, this would translate into more than 1.5 million quitters a year," said Karen Hudmon, DrPH, RPh, assistant clinical professor of pharmacy at UCSF and principal investigator on the new NCI grant. In 1999, pharmacists and leading tobacco researchers developed the Rx for Change tobacco cessation counseling curriculum. The program teaches principles set forth in the US Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guidelines for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. Since 1999, the program has been implemented annually as required coursework at all four California schools of pharmacy, reaching more than 600 pharmacy students a year. Based on a positive response to the program, the UCSF clinical pharmacy professors applied to NCI for funding to support training of faculty from all of the country's pharmacy schools. Once a team from each school is trained, these faculty members are expected to offer the six-to-eight-hour course to their pharmacy students. "The goal of the program is to train pharmacy students to be effective counselors for tobacco cessation, which includes assisting patients with appropriate medication for quitting, as well as providing counseling and support throughout the quit attempt," Hudmon said. Co-investigators with Hudmon are Robin Corelli, PharmD, and Lisa Kroon, PharmD, both associate professors of clinical pharmacy at UCSF. The three are also investigators in a related project just funded by NCI, a $4-million program to train both family practice physicians and community pharmacists in tobacco cessation counseling and encourage them to work as a team to help patients stop using tobacco. The researchers also will be working with Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies to adapt the program for use in nursing through a grant from the American Legacy Foundation. "The Rx for Change program is unique because it was created, implemented and evaluated as a collaborative effort of pharmacy faculty members across California," said Corelli. "It is adaptable for use in medical, dental, nursing and other allied health schools. Given that tobacco use is the primary known cause of death and disease in the US, few would disagree that including a smoking cessation program in health professional school curricula is important in promoting the health of Americans."