Pharmacy professor, alumnus and student recognized with Ontario Pharmacists Association Awards

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Prof. Nardine Nakhla, Nastaran Keshmiri and George Daskalakis  smiling

Left to right: Prof. Nardine Nakhla, Nastaran Keshmiri and George Daskalakis

In early June, the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) held their annual conference which included an award ceremony. Three winners were associated with Waterloo Pharmacy.

Bowl of Hygeia Award 2020: Nardine Nakhla

Nardine Nakhla, a professor with Waterloo Pharmacy since 2009, is the 2020 recipient of the Bowl of Hygeia Award. This award is provided to a pharmacist who provides outstanding service to the community.  In a short period of time, one that has seen the profession of pharmacy evolve significantly, Prof. Nakhla has made a tremendous impact on the practice of pharmacy through her service.

One major shift has been towards pharmacists’ enhanced scope and greater involvement in the management of minor ailments across the country. Prof. Nakhla has been instrumental in steering this effort through her work. In addition to teaching with Waterloo Pharmacy, Prof. Nakhla has taught at the University of Toronto Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and has made significant contributions to the educational and professional communities.

She has spent several years serving the general public and the pharmacy profession on committees related to non-prescription products and minor ailments including the Ontario College of Pharmacists’ Minor Ailments Advisory Group (MAAG), a group tasked with developing draft regulations to enable pharmacist-led prescribing for minor ailments in Ontario, the Non-prescription Medicines Academy (USA), and the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada (AFPC) Self-Care Therapeutics and Minor Ailments Special Interest Group (founder and current vice-chair). She is consulted by Health Canada’s Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD) and the Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP) on matters relating to the Modernization of the Self-Care Regulatory Framework and on efforts to improve self-care product labelling.

Through her work as a professor and speaker at conferences and events nationally and internationally, Nakhla shares her expertise with current and future health-care practitioners. At Waterloo Pharmacy, she leads the development and delivery of curricular content on minor ailment management and self-care therapeutics. She continues to expand the reach of her educational efforts; in partnership with the Ontario Pharmacists Association, she co-authored a new course for pharmacists on prescribing for minor ailments. She leads a National Smoking Cessation Initiative aimed at harmonizing the scope of practice of pharmacists across Canada. She had previously worked with Shoppers Drug Mart to assist in the development and delivery of a pan-Canadian clinical skills training program for all pharmacists within the chain.

In addition to these roles, Nakhla continues to work as a community pharmacist and to advocate for the pharmacy profession.

Student of Distinction Award 2020: Nastaran Keshmiri

Nastaran Keshmiri, Rx2020, is the recipient of the 2020 Students of Distinction Award. This award recognizes a graduating pharmacy student that has exhibited strong leadership qualities and a commitment to advancing the profession of pharmacy throughout their academic career. Since the 2020 OPA conference was cancelled, both the 2020 and 2021 versions of this award were given.

Nastaran currently works as a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart and has worked as a member of the pharmacy professional services team at the Shoppers head office in Toronto. She was a dedicated student leader throughout her years at Waterloo Pharmacy, organizing educational sessions and collaborating with colleagues and health-care providers throughout both her academic and work experiences. She was Vice-President and later President of the oncology Pharmacy Interest Group and delivered numerous events for student education. She has been a stalwart mentor and leader for her class, supporting her peers and championing interprofessional education for fellow pharmacy students. Of note, Nastaran led the 2018 Annual Interprofessional Geriatric Conference which brought together students from numerous of health professions.

Nastaran’s professional experience spans community pharmacy, an outpatient cancer center, long-term care consulting and hospital pharmacy and she also is a Medical Science Liaison for AbbieVie, a pharmaceutical research and development company.

 Student of Distinction Award 2021: George Daskalakis

George Daskalakis, Rx2021, is the recipient of the 2021 Students of Distinction Award. George is an active student leader at Waterloo Pharmacy and has been involved in pharmacy advocacy since the first year of his pharmacy education, when he promoted an advocacy letter-writing campaign to students and peers.

He has served as Chair of the OPA University of Waterloo Student Chapter and was critical in forming a motion to implement a new student engagement model that aimed to strengthen the relationship between OPA and students. His diverse co-op work experiences have given him insight into trends in pharmacy practice. This knowledge drove him to found the Technology in Pharmacy club at Waterloo Pharmacy, a group aimed at preparing pharmacy students to thrive in their interactions with technology. This group recently delivered a pharmacy and technology-focused hackathon which drew participants from across North American and beyond from a variety of fields.

George also has made research contributions to the health-care community. His publication “What Is Known about Community Pharmacy-Based Take-Home Naloxone Programs and Program Interventions? A Scoping Review”, examined the effectiveness of take-home naloxone programs on patient success. He continues to conduct research in partnership with others at Waterloo Pharmacy and is currently studying interprofessional collaboration and approaches for improvement.

Congratulations to all the award recipients!

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