Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM) is a national event, started by the Canadian Pharmacists Association and supported by the Pharmacists Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL).
Occurring annually throughout the month of March, PAM aims to educate prospective students and the general public about the career options and scope of responsibilities that come with being a pharmacist.
Students in Memorial’s School of Pharmacy have truly embraced the event, and are keen to contribute by putting their own personal stamp on the festivities.
Kara O’Keefe (Class of 2016) is the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns (CAPSI) Junior Representative, and is this year’s lead event organizer.
Ms. O’Keefe is particularly excited about presenting to high school students, to not only communicate the responsibilities that come with being a pharmacist, but also about drug abuse.
“I think that whether they’re considering pharmacy as a career or not, high school students really need to be aware of how damaging drugs can be,” she said. “Students are often told about the dangers of illicit drugs, but never about how prescription drugs can be equally as dangerous when used outside the supervision of a healthcare provider.”
She added that while many people believe that pharmacists only count and dispense pills, more importantly, they are medication experts and advisors.
“They are advisors to patients, healthcare professionals, and members of the public on the selection and use of medications, and they’re educators to government officials on pharmaceutical policy. It’s up to us to show the true value in our profession and help the public see this as well,” she said.
Dr. Linda Hensman, dean of the School of Pharmacy, is thrilled with PAM’s growth and development over the past three years.
“I am so proud of our students for their enthusiasm about their chosen field, their eagerness to get involved with the community, and their initiative to plan such a great event,” she said. “The experiential learning aspect of our program is extremely effective for both the community preceptors who work with the students on their placements, and also for the students themselves. The experience is invaluable for getting a sense of what is expected of them when they become practicing pharmacists.”
The Bachelor of Science (pharmacy) program is the only program in Canada whose recent graduating class attained a 100% pass rate in the national exams (a pre-licensing requirement for pharmacists) - an indication of just how keen its students are.
Some of the community-based events taking place during Pharmacists Awareness Month include teaching kindergarten students the proper way to wash their hands, prescription drug abuse presentations at local high schools, blood pressure monitoring at the Avalon Mall, lip gloss compounding with the Girl Guides, a “Pharmacy Phair” job fair in the University Centre Loft on March 17.
The third annual Public Pill Drop will take place on March 29 at the recently revamped and expanded Fort Townsend RNC/RCMP Headquarters. Residents of St. John’s and surrounding areas are encouraged to drop by and discard their expired medications.
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See the full Schedule of Events.