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The PAM plan

Pharmacy students, faculty celebrate profession during month-long event

By Heidi Wicks

Each March Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM) is celebrated across Canada to recognize and educate Canadians about the contributions pharmacists make in the delivery of health care.

School of Pharmacy students, faculty and staff have planned a full calendar of events to spread awareness of the expanding scope of pharmacy practice.

Watch the video below for more about PAM.

Focus areas

During PAM, the school will highlight major research initiatives that encompass the school’s three focus areas: research, teaching and learning and community engagement.

Pharmacy students during an outreach event at the Avalon Mall in 2016.
Pharmacy students during an outreach event at the Avalon Mall in 2016.
Photo: Submitted

“The history of pharmacy education in the province has changed over the past number of years,” explained Dr. Lisa Bishop, interim dean.

“In the past it focused more on dispensing and now the focus is more on patient care.”

Reflecting teaching and learning in the research is especially important. Dr. Bishop says the school has modified its curriculum so that students are exposed to injections training, prescribing for minor ailments and other collaborative practice in order to be prepared and ready to practise in the “ever-changing” environment of pharmacy.

Two of the school’s projects, the Deprescribing Program and the Smoking Cessation Program, run out of the School’s Medication Therapy Services (MTS) Clinic.

Drug misadventures

 A new study in the MTS Clinic will bring a partnership with Lawton’s Nursing Home services and St. Patrick’s Mercy Home long-term care facility in St. John’s to provide in-depth medication reviews for residents.

The focus is on identifying duplicate, unnecessary and potentially harmful medications.

From left are Beverly Noftall, pharmacy student Tiffany Tozer and Mary Stokes. Ms. Stokes, a resident of St. Pat's Mercy Home, is Ms. Noftall's mother.
From left are Beverly Noftall, pharmacy student Tiffany Tozer and Mary Stokes. Ms. Stokes, a resident of St. Pat’s Mercy Home, is Ms. Noftall’s mother.
Photo: Chris Hammond

“Sleep aids, for example, are intended for short-term, intermittent use only,” explained Dr. Debbie Kelly, principal investigator, MTS Clinic director and associate professor. “Over time, they lose their effectiveness and stop providing the relief they once did.

“Older patients in particular are very susceptible to serious adverse effects such as confusion, delirium and falls, so it is necessary to revisit the need for these medications periodically and discontinue them when they are no longer necessary,” Dr. Kelly continued.

Pharmacy students in their final semester will provide the medication reviews under the supervision of the pharmacist servicing the facility and clinical pharmacists in the clinic Students will also propose evidence-based, individualized plans to carefully and safely discontinue unnecessary and unsafe medications.

“We educate our students to systematically assess each patient’s medication regime for appropriateness, effectiveness and tolerability,” said Dr. Kelly.

“This is an important part of their final training before entering into practice.”

 Collaboration creates quitters

 One in two smokers will die as a consequence of his or her smoking.

Quitting smoking is the most important act a smoker will ever do to improve their health.

Dr. Leslie Phillips (right) used smoking cessation counselling to help her colleague Karen Brown quit smoking in 2014. Ms. Brown remains a non-smoker.
Dr. Leslie Phillips (right) used smoking cessation counselling to help her colleague Karen Brown quit smoking in 2014. Ms. Brown remains a non-smoker.
Photo: Chris Hammond

The Smoking Cessation Program (SCP), which operates out of the school’s MTS Clinic, provides both counselling and smoking cessation medications and works with smokers to develop individualized quit plans.

Dr. Leslie Phillips, associate dean of undergraduate studies, established the SCP in February of last year.

In addition to being an opportunity for pharmacists to demonstrate their expertise in this area and to make meaningful contributions to the health and well-being of patients, the program offers a unique, collaborative teaching and learning experience for pharmacy students and psychiatry residents.

The research project, Student Learning in an Interprofessional Student-led Smoking Cessation Program, was recently funded under Memorial’s Teaching and Learning Framework.

“Written journal reflections, audio-recorded interviews and conversational analysis of in-person clinic interactions will be the primary methods of data collection and analysis,” said Dr. Phillips.

“These will be used to evaluate learning related to communication and collaboration between the students and residents, as well as with the patients.”

A full roster of events

The third annual Pharmacy Research Day will take place on Thursday, March 16, in the Health Sciences Centre foyer and main auditorium.

The symposium includes a poster competition, Snappy Synopsis: Graduate Research in a Nutshell, and two guest speakers: Dr. Jeremy Desai, president and CEO of Apotex, and Dr. John Shacka of the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The schedule is available online.

Pharmacy students participating in the 2016 Public Pill Drop.
Pharmacy students participating in the 2016 Public Pill Drop.
Photo: Submitted

As usual, pharmacy student societies, Memorial University Pharmacy Students (MUPS) and the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns (CAPSI), have planned a full month of events, activities and presentations to spread awareness of the pharmacy profession to diverse groups within the City of St. John’s.

 Highlights include the following:

  • Public Pill Drop: Sunday, March 19, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Royal Newfoundland Constabulary headquarters, Parade Street
  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s Next Top Pharmacist competition: Saturday, March 18, at 7 p.m., The Breezeway, University Centre, Memorial University, St. John’s campus
  • Primary, elementary and high school presentations on drug awareness
  • Delivering blood pressure testing to long-term care facilities

Pharmacist Awareness Month officially kicks off on Thursday, March 2, at the Holiday Inn with a reception hosted by the Pharmacists Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL). Second-year pharmacy student and Rachel Ward, MUPS-CAPSI junior representative, will be on hand to test attendees’ blood pressure.

The month will conclude with a public open house at the James J. O’Mara Pharmacy Museum in Apothecary Hall, hosted by the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board.

On Sunday, March 26, members of the pharmacy community and the public can drop by the museum to see how the profession has evolved over the years. A visit to this restored heritage site, preserved by Newfoundland and Labrador pharmacists, is the perfect way to end Pharmacist Awareness Month and to celebrate the history and the future of the profession.

A full calendar or events is available on the School of Pharmacy website. For updates and more on featured research projects throughout PAM, follow the School of Pharmacy on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MUNPAM17, or sign up for the school’s new e-newsletter, eScript.

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