Pharmacist Awareness Month aims to educate

By in Opinions

It’s likely that you’ve encountered pharmacists quite frequently — whether you are filling or picking up a prescription or just scouring the pharmacy for an overthe-counter medicine to treat what ails you.

Pharmacist Awareness Month aims to both educate the public on the profession while also cultivating community ties between pharmacy students and their patients. Amanda Bunyamin is a thirdyear pharmacy student and the promotions co-ordinator of the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns.

“PAM is a month-long event that is put on by CAPSI. What it is is just to raise awareness about pharmacy in the college as well as in the community,” Bunyamin said.

Different celebratory and awareness events take place on campus over the course of the month while outreach initiatives allow students to go into the community to engage with patients and the public.

“We do presentations in schools. [In] elementary schools, we talk about safety with medications, and then, [in] high school, we talk about the role of pharmacists and health science, and relating that to biology and chemistry,” Bunyamin said.

Passionate about educational outreach, the CAPSI council and pharmacy students are busy holding different community-based learning initiatives to help educate and empower individuals from all health backgrounds.

“We do hold clinics in different community pharmacies. We are doing a pill drive at Market Mall this year where people can drop off their old, used [or] expired medications for safe disposal. And then, we also do different presentations… We do presentations at [the] SWITCH [clinic]. We do presentations at Luther Care Homes and another at Global Gathering Place,” Bunyamin said.

This passion for education doesn’t end in the greater Saskatoon community. The month includes campus events that involve interdisciplinary workshops where students from all health disciplines come together to assess case studies and become more aware of the different roles that are a part of integrative patient care. This year’s panel is about HIV care.

There is also a mentorship night where pharmacy students are able to interact with different pharmacists from various professional backgrounds to help propel their future careers forward.

“I think there is still a misconception about pharmacists,” Bunyamin said. “I think our younger generations are starting to understand it more, but a lot of people still think that pharmacists just count pills in a pharmacy.”

In the past several years, the scope of practice for pharmacists has increased. Pharmacists can now administer certain vaccines like influenza and travel vaccinations, and they can also prescribe for minor ailments like urinary-tract infections. Birth control is another prescription that now falls into a pharmacist’s scope of practice.

Anyone who has ever filled a prescription is aware of the usual 20-minute wait. Bunyamin explains that these wait times allow the pharmacist to access your insurance information, view your medical history, and check for the safety of the dose and any drug interactions — preventing adverse health effects and unnecessary out-of-pocket charges.

Bunyamin hopes that these annual awareness campaigns will help get pharmacists more involved in a patient’s care. Pharmacists can follow the course of patients’ health histories and be able to be instrumental in chronic health management. She hopes that pharmacists of the future will have a more active role.

“Pharmacists are really accessible health-care providers,” Bunyamin said.

So why not utilize your friendly neighbourhood pharmacists for your healthcare needs? They will be more than happy to help.

For more information on Pharmacist Awareness Month, visit www.usaskpam.com/all-events.

Erin Matthews / Opinions Editor

Photo: Riley Deacon / Photo Editor