“Prof. Nakhla ensures that our students are fully prepared to enter practice & works tirelessly to do so." Dave Edwards
Monday, April 27, 2020

Pharmacy professor Nardine Nakhla recognized with Excellence in Science Teaching Award

Since 2009, Professor Nardine Nakhla has inspired students as a key member of the School of Pharmacy’s professional practice team, providing experienced-based lectures and lessons in clinical pharmacy. The Excellence in Science Teaching Award recognizes her exceptional educational delivery, innovative methodology and enthusiasm for teaching.

Nardine Nakhla“Professor Nakhla is dedicated to ensuring that our students are fully prepared to enter professional practice and she works tirelessly towards achieving that goal,” David Edwards says, Hallman director of the School of Pharmacy. “Over her years at the School, I have consistently heard how our students appreciate her passion for pharmacy and her outstanding approach to teaching.”

That passion and Nakhla’s extensive expertise were commented on by all nominators. In particular, nominators noted how Nakhla creates meaningful assignments that prepare students as future pharmacists. For example, she has helped students hone communication skills and build their network through digitally-facilitated partnerships with pharmacy students in the United States and has designed a unique assignment that provides students with the opportunity to be published in a national pharmacy publication.

“The Spotlight Assignment asks students to create infographics to communicate health information in an engaging manner to health care providers,” Nakhla says. “I assess the clinical content and the overall design, and five winners each semester have their infographics published in Pharmacy Practice + Business.”  

That boundary-pushing spirit has served Nakhla well as the coronavirus pandemic caused the University of Waterloo to move winter term courses online. She sent students heartfelt “check-in emails” during these challenging times, sharing strategies for self-care and held online office hours and virtual exam review sessions. Never one to miss a learning opportunity, Nakhla also adapted assessments to make them more relevant to current events.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the health care landscape,” she explains. “Some care providers have closed offices for non-emergencies, so many are using virtual consults to counsel patients. With classes online, I now had the perfect opportunity to encourage students to hone their own skills at virtual consultation.”

Her advanced patient self-care course typically required students to counsel standardized patients ­– actors hired to portray patients. With the transition online, Nakhla experimented with different online video systems and found a way for her students and actors to carry out a video consultation from the comfort of their own homes while she sat in to moderate and assess students.

A video conference between Prof Nakhla, a standardized patient and a student. Prof Nakhla is holding a box of Benadryl medication.

In addition to her pioneering education work, Nakhla is a leader in the pharmacy field, speaking at pharmacy conferences across Canada and internationally, writing a column in a prominent pharmacy magazine, and engaging with pharmacy organizations and providing a vital perspective. Her advocacy around the role pharmacists can play supporting patients with self-care and minor ailments has earned her a seat on numerous decision-making bodies and she also leads an initiative to harmonize pharmacist-led smoking cessation care across Canada.

Nakhla brings her leadership experience in these roles into the classroom. As one nominator said, Nakhla “motivates each and every student to redefine what it means to be a pharmacist.”

Congratulations, Professor Nakhla, on this outstanding achievement!

Read more about the Excellence in Science Teaching award and the other 2020 recipient on the Faculty of Science website.