With pharmaceutical care changing rapidly in recent years, pharmacy students and interns stepped up to the challenge and adapted to new methods of patient care.
The Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns (CAPSI) represents over 4,000 future pharmacists who envision the profession’s evolution first-hand through front-line experiences.
“Throughout the pandemic, pharmacists and pharmacy team members worked tirelessly, providing accessible care and services to the public. Their resiliency and critical thinking excite me about my future profession,” says Ryan Chan, a PharmD student at University of Saskatchewan and CAPSI’s Professional Development Week Education Officer. “During the first wave, the number of prescriptions my pharmacy was processing more than doubled. With many drug shortages, the pharmacy staff continued to actively source and recommend alternatives for patients.”
Pharmacists stepping up across Canada
Melanie King, the senior CAPSI representative at Memorial University of Newfoundland, expresses similar sentiments, “As a first-year pharmacy student working during the pandemic, it made me confident in my choice to pursue pharmacy, seeing how irreplaceable pharmacists are in patient care. They are able to adapt in many situations, and I’m proud to be part of this profession.”
King described how her pharmacy found innovative ways to help patients, including virtual medication reviews, free prescription delivery, and opioid agonist maintenance treatment (OAMT). “We also contacted prescribers for patients who were stable on OAMT about the possibility of having more carries while isolating.”
Steven Huynh, a PharmD student at University of Waterloo and CAPSI’s Executive Secretary, shared stories from specialty pharmacy, “We primarily dispense medications for autoimmune conditions. Because these often leave our patients immunocompromised, many are nervous about leaving their house,” he explained, “Thankfully, our pharmacy has an entire team dedicated to co-ordinating deliveries. We also provide virtual appointments to train those newly started on injection medications. We make it a priority to ensure no patient gets left behind or falls between the cracks.”
Advocating for sustainable pharmacy services
Pharmacy students and interns are continuously inspired by the pharmacist role’s evolution throughout the pandemic, but there remain barriers and burnout, threatening the sustainability of services pharmacies offer their communities. Chan explains, “I’ve seen how community pharmacies are faced with increasing prescription volume and greater need for clinical services, but inadequate resources and insufficient legislation sometimes make it difficult for pharmacists to offer their full value to patients.”
Florence Bédard Perrault, the CAPSI junior representative at Université de Montréal, shared how legislation changes inspired her to pursue pharmacy. “In 2020-2021, when I was scrolling through university programs, I realized I had never thought about becoming a pharmacist. So I started doing my research and found a profession closely helping its community through vaccination, test distribution, and plenty of other activities allowed by Bill 31, newly adopted in Quebec. I think these new regulations really contributed to the pharmacist’s recognition as a first-line health-care professional.”
CAPSI is continuously involved in advocating for the services, support, and sustainability that will empower pharmacy students and interns to step up for their patient communities as they enter this profession.