A pharmacy student’s pandemic experience

A photo of Camille wearing a lab coat and smiling. Camille Huo (she/her), a third-year Pharmacy student at the School of Pharmacy, shares her experience working in a pharmacy during the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and how she navigated the pressures of it as a co-op student. Her accomplishments led her to be named the recipient of the 2021 Science Co-op Student of the Year Award!

Camille worked as a Pharmacy Student at Toronto East Pharmasave, where she took on multiple tasks and describes what it was like to work at a pharmacy located inside of a hospital (Michael Garron Hospital).

“It was kind of a hybrid between community pharmacy as well as an outpatient hospital pharmacy. So definitely something unique that I haven't tried before,” says Huo.

“It was a lot of counseling patients on their new medications and helping out in the dispensary to give out prescription medications. But the more unique side of it was that it was a lot of hospital discharge medications. So a lot of post-surgery painkillers, and eye drops after cataract surgeries. It was definitely a really unique experience that I really enjoyed.” The pharmacy that she was working at was also one of the first ones to provide the COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: What were some of your accomplishments that you think made you stand out among your peers?

A: “The first one would be creating a handout and presentation as part of my co-op tasks that needed to be done. I asked my preceptor what topic was missing in their toolbox and one of them was that a lot of the pediatric patients, so kids who just got tonsillectomies, didn't have a great handout to give parents on how to manage their pain. So, that was one thing that I worked on. I created a handout and presentation to educate parents on Tylenol, Advil and prescription painkillers.”

“The other thing that I was able to accomplish was in March 2021 when the COVID-19 vaccine started rolling out. Our pharmacy was one of the first community pharmacies to implement the COVID-19 vaccines.”

“It was a lot of work getting the scheduling going, managing the dose inventory and checking patient eligibility. I was mostly in charge of running the clinic's schedule and inventory, so that was another major accomplishment that I got to help out with.”

Q: How well do you think the handout you created was received? Did you get any feedback from parents?

A: “I believe the handout is still at the pharmacy, they still give it out to patients who've just received their tonsillectomies. I did use the handout to counsel a parent once, and she was really grateful to have it.”

A photo of Camille giving a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient.Camille giving a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient. 

 
“It has little pictures and a scale with faces showing how much pain their child might be in. Since children can't really do the number scale, they can point to which face they feel like they're in pain with. So I do think it was well-received and a really good tool to add to the pharmacy that they can continue to use.”

Q: As a co-op student, how did you deal with providing correct vaccine information to patients?

A: “As a pharmacy co-op student, we do have a lot of similar responsibilities and tasks as the pharmacist, as long as we're under their supervision. In terms of answering those vaccine questions from patients, it was a lot of independent learning and just making sure that I stayed up to date with the eligibility requirements and the safety profiles of all the vaccines that were coming out. Especially in the beginning, when the eligibility was always changing from week to week. So, just a lot of making sure that I stayed up to date with all of that.”

A Photo of Camille smiling during an interview.

Q: How does it feel to win the 2021 Science Co-op Student of the Year Award knowing how much competition there is for the award?

A: “I feel so grateful. I know that there are a lot of co-op students, even in the Faculty of Science. So, to be able to be named Co-op Student of the Year makes me feel very recognized for all the tasks that I was able to accomplish at Pharmasave. I'm also really grateful to be able to represent the School of Pharmacy. 

 

I feel like sometimes we're a little low-key and forgotten, especially since we're on a satellite campus. So, being able to represent pharmacy students, that also go through the co-op process, feels very rewarding.”


Here are some words Camille would like to share about her co-op experience at Toronto East Pharmasave:


Camille got the chance to work first-hand with preparing and administering COVID-19 vaccines and says, “It’s been amazing being a pharmacy student during the pandemic, we’ve learned so much, we’ve learned a lot about how to adapt quickly.” You never know what opportunities work-integrated learning (WIL) can bring your way. #inspiredWIL

Are you interested in applying for the Co-op Student of the Year Award in your faculty? Submit a nomination form to be considered for the award. You never know what can happen!


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