News Release

REF NO.: 64

SUBJECT: Memorial University celebrating Pharmacist Awareness Month

DATE: March 1, 2017

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, including the ways pharmacy practice and research can help save health-care dollars in a troubled economy.

Dr. Lisa Bishop, interim dean, says that in line with the expanding scope of pharmacy practice, the school’s curriculum continues to evolve to meet the needs of the health-care system.

“Our students are exposed to injections training and prescribing for minor ailments, as well as other collaborative practice so that they’re really prepared to practise in this ever-changing environment,” she said.

Two research initiatives in the school have components that address saving resources in the health-care system.


Drug misadventures

A new study in the school’s Medication Therapy Services 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 focus on identifying duplicate, unnecessary and potentially harmful medications for residents.


“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,” said Dr. Debbie Kelly, principal investigator.

By offering earlier intervention, everyone wins, says Dr. Kelly.

“Being on the wrong medication can cost more in resources due to increased visits to doctor’s offices and hospitals.”


Collaborating to create quitters

A new research project exploring student learning in an interprofessional, student and resident-led Smoking Cessation Program in the school’s Medication Therapy Services Clinic teaches smokers that sometimes it’s okay to be a quitter.

Newfoundland and Labrador continues to have one of the highest smoking rates in Canada. Perhaps of more concern, the rate of smoking for individuals diagnosed with mental health conditions is not declining and one in every two individuals with a mental illness continues to smoke. 

“Mental health and smoking are linked,” said Dr. Leslie Phillips, co-principal investigator. “Individuals with mental illness are far more likely to smoke and to smoke more heavily, because nicotine releases a feel good chemical in the brain.

“Unfortunately, that means they are at higher risk of smoking-related health consequences, most notably premature death. We know that quitting smoking not only prolongs life expectancy, it actually reduces anxiety and depression in the long run.”

Smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death and disease in the country.

“Forty per cent of cancers in the U.S. are now linked to tobacco use,” said Dr. Phillips. “There is no safe level of smoking. Every 10 minutes, two Canadian teenagers start smoking; one of them will lose their life because of it. Every 11 minutes, a Canadian dies as a consequence of smoking.” 

For a full PAM schedule of events, please visit here.  

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