Pharmacy students run outreach initiative for elementary school children

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March is Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM) and that means that our students are out in the community, sharing their pharmacy knowledge in venues like Conestoga Mall and in Kitchener and Waterloo classrooms.

Roger and Urooj in a school hallway

Roger Ayoub and Urooj Advani were some of the 33 volunteers who participated in PAM Outreach.

For many years, Waterloo Pharmacy has partnered with local schools to deliver PAM Outreach, a project where students conduct educational presentations in schools. The student-led initiative leverages pharmacy learners’ expertise: our students conducted presentations in five schools throughout the month, reaching an audience of over 500 students. Student presentations covered three topics:

  • Operation Butt Out teaches students about the effects of smoking
  • Operation WASHUP stresses the importance of proper handwashing
  • Kids and Medicine emphasizes medication safety

Minh-Thu Nguyen, Senior Education and Outreach Coordinator from Waterloo’s Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns Council, organized the presentations, collaborating with the Council and local schools.

It was incredibly rewarding”, she says of her own experience delivering a presentation “to know that I was teaching kids about pharmacy and healthcare. As an advocate for pharmacy, I wanted to convey my passion for the profession and create more awareness”.

The important themes of each presentation resonated with audiences for different reasons. Kids and Medicine features an engaging game for students, while Operation WASHUP uses Glo-Germ, a teaching tool that shows up under UV lights, to help children visualize the invisible nature of germs. Operation Butt Out, a new addition to the presentation roster, sparked many audience questions, and our students werMinh-Thu, smilinge able to showcase their specific training in smoking effects and cessation.

The presentations are increasingly popular with community schools and, by word of mouth, are garnering interest outside of the KW area. “I have been involved for the past 3 years,” says Minh-Thu (pictured left), “and have noticed the same teachers showing interest year after year. We have even had requests from other cities!”

To have so many young pharmacy students come to our school and share their passion for science and medicine is a fantastic opportunity for our kids,” said one teacher who hosted a presentation, “[The volunteers] were kind, patient, knowledgeable and most of all engaging for the kids”.

Due to the volume of requests she has received, Minh-Thu and the UW CAPSI council are considering expanding PAM Outreach initiatives beyond March, and may offer the presentations at other times in the year.

Operations Butt Out and WASHUP are sponsored by TEVA, and the Kids and Medicine presentation is sponsored by the Canadian Pharmacists Association. Without the support of these organizations or the dedication of our student volunteers, the presentations would not be possible.

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